The Permanent Council meetings take place once a week in Vienna. They are convened and chaired by the Chairperson-in-Office or his/her representative. The Permanent Council is composed of delegates of the 57 participating States. The 11 OSCE Partners for Co-operation, representatives of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and of OSCE executive structures may attend and make contributions. A delegation to the Permanent Council consists of representatives of that participating State, under the leadership of an Ambassador appointed as Permanent Representative to the OSCE. The Chairperson may invite high-level officials from participating States and other international organizations, institutions and initiatives to address a meeting as guest speakers.
Negotiating process and political dialogue
In the Plenary Meetings of the Permanent Council, participating States hold regular political consultations. Delegations may also raise any other issue for discussion.
OSCE decisions have to be taken by consensus. Accordingly, the Chairperson seeks approval from all delegations. If all delegates agree, the decision becomes politically binding for all participating States.
Informal subsidiary bodies
The Permanent Council has a number of informal subsidiary bodies, including one committee for each of the three dimensions of the OSCE security concept (politico-military, economic and environmental, and human). The committees discuss issues in their respective dimensions, including implementation of the commitments of the participating States, and consider, when so requested by the Chairmanship in consultation with participating States, cross-dimensional issues with a particular relevance to their respective dimensions. Further activities of the committees include:
- Supports the preparation of the Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC), taking into account a contribution from the Forum for Security Co-operation, and other relevant meetings.
- Discusses recommendations to the Permanent Council.
Economic and Environmental Committee
- Supports the preparation of the meetings of the Economic and Environmental Forum (EEF) and other meetings on economic and environmental issues.
- Discusses recommendations to the Permanent Council, including actions to follow up on recommendations made by the EEF.
Human Dimension Committee
- Supports the preparation of the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings (HDIMs) and other human dimension meetings.
- Discusses recommendations to the Permanent Council, including actions to follow up on recommendations made at the human dimension meetings.
The Committees meet in an informal format and report, make recommendations to, and prepare relevant decisions for the Permanent Council. According to established practice, the Security Committee, the Economic and Environmental Committee and the Human Dimension Committee are chaired, on behalf of the Chairmanship, by Heads of OSCE Delegations of three other participating States. The Chairmanship appoints the Chairpersons of all three Committees.
An additional informal subsidiary body is the Preparatory Committee (PrepComm) of the Permanent Council, which assists in the Permanent Council’s deliberations and decision-making and strengthens the process of political consultations and transparency within the Organization. The PrepComm plays a key role in the preparation of decisions/documents for adoption by the Permanent Council, and functions as a “last filter” before the submission of draft decisions/documents to the Permanent Council.
The Advisory Committee on Management and Finance (ACMF) is an advisory committee to the Permanent Council on all issues related to the OSCE budget, funding and resources management.
Contact Groups with Partners for Co-operation
The Contact Groups with the Asian and Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation are chaired by the preceding and incoming Chairmanships respectively. Draft agendas and rolling schedules of meetings are co-ordinated with the Chair of the respective Contact Group and the OSCE External Co-operation Section. A joint meeting of both Contact Groups is held on an annual basis.