The OSCE Permanent Council is formed by the delegates of the 57 participating States. The OSCE's 11 partner States may attend as observers. A delegation to the Permanent Council consists of a team of diplomats of the participating State led by an ambassador.
In the Plenary Meetings of the Permanent Council, the delegations raise security issues relating to their own State or to other OSCE members. The delegations prepare these issues, present them to the Permanent Council and seek support from other States. The issues raised cover all three OSCE dimensions of security - the human, the politico-military and the economic-environmental. Each delegation has an equal right to raise an issue for discussion.
OSCE decisions have to be taken by consensus. This means that there is no voting on issues, the Chairman rather seeks approval from all delegations. In the case of one or more delegations opposing a decision, the issue goes back into negotiation. If all delegates agree, the decision becomes politically binding for all member states.
With diplomats of 57 states meeting weekly in Vienna, the OSCE is a unique instrument for confidence and security-building measures within its area. In times of crisis, the Permanent Council can meet on an ad-hoc basis.