What we do
What we do
Security touches on many aspects of the way we live and are governed. The OSCE's comprehensive view of security covers three “dimensions”: the politico-military; the economic and environmental; and the human. The OSCE's activities cover all three of these areas, from "hard" security issues such as conflict prevention to fostering economic development, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources, and promoting the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The end of the Cold War resulted in a huge amount of surplus weapons becoming available illegally. The OSCE, through its field operations, helps to stop the spread of such weapons and offers assistance with their destruction. The Forum for Security Co-operation, which is the main OSCE body dealing with politico-military aspects of security, contributes to these efforts by developing documents regulating transfers of conventional arms and establishing principles governing non-proliferation.
The OSCE seeks to enhance border security while facilitating legitimate travel and commerce, protecting human rights and promoting human contacts. The OSCE Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, trains border officers from OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation, including Afghanistan, and promotes cross-border co-operation in the Central Asian region.
Human trafficking affects virtually all OSCE states, either as countries of origin or destination. This modern form of slavery is an affront to human dignity, often involving psychological terror and physical violence. Human trafficking engages issues of human rights and rule of law, of law enforcement and crime control, of inequality and discrimination, of corruption, economic deprivation and migration.
With its expertise in conflict prevention, crisis management and early warning, the OSCE contributes to world-wide efforts in combating terrorism. Many effective counter-terrorism measures fall into other areas in which the OSCE is active, such as police training and border monitoring. The OSCE also looks at human rights issues in relation to counter-terrorism.
The OSCE works to prevent conflicts from arising and to facilitate lasting comprehensive political settlements for existing conflicts. It also helps with the process of rehabilitation in post-conflict areas. It co-operates with representatives of the United Nations and other international organizations operating in areas of conflict.
The OSCE helps its participating States build democratic institutions; hold free, fair and transparent elections; promote gender equality; ensure respect for human rights, media freedom, minority rights and the rule of law; and promote tolerance and non-discrimination.
The OSCE undertakes numerous activities to support economic growth, including the strengthening of small- and medium-sized enterprises, monitoring the economic impact of trafficking and taking action against corruption and money laundering.
Education programmes are an integral part of the Organization's efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation. The OSCE's youth projects include human rights, environmental, tolerance, and gender education as well as support for minorities in education.
Recognizing that democratic elections form the basis for legitimate government, the OSCE observes elections throughout its 57 participating States. It also provides technical assistance to improve the legislative and administrative framework for elections in specific countries. Some OSCE field operations carry out elections-related activities, including training for election commission members, media and police as well as voter education initiatives. They do not, however, take part in election observation missions in their countries of operation.
Recognizing the close connection between environmental issues and security, the OSCE assists participating States with the sustainable use and sound management of natural resources. It supports projects to improve water management, deal with soil degradation and dispose safely of toxic and radioactive waste. It works to raise environmental awareness and promote public participation in environmental decision-making.
The OSCE aims to provide equal opportunities for women and men, as well as to integrate gender equality into policies and practices, both within participating States and the Organization itself. With local partners, the OSCE initiates and runs projects across the OSCE region to empower women, and build local capacities and expertise on gender issues. It co-operates with authorities in reviewing legislation and assists in building national mechanisms to ensure equality between women and men.
The OSCE assists OSCE participating States in fighting corruption and in building democratic, accountable state institutions.
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms forms a key part of the OSCE's comprehensive security concept. The OSCE monitors the human rights situation in its 57 participating States.
Free and well-developed media are a cornerstone of democratic societies. The OSCE monitors media developments in its participating States for violations of freedom of expression. This includes reviewing legislation regulating the media, as well as monitoring cases where journalists are prosecuted for their professional activities or are the victims of harassment. The OSCE also engages in media development through training and support for editors and journalists.
The Forum for Security Co-operation, which meets weekly in Vienna, provides a framework for dialogue between the OSCE participating States on military conduct, and on confidence- and security-building measures. Practical activities to assist States in reforming their legislation; downsizing and/or conversion of their armies; training personnel on the rights of the servicemen and humanitarian law; and other areas related to military reform are conducted by the OSCE field operations, as well as the Conflict Prevention Centre.
The OSCE identifies and seeks early resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace or stability. It promotes the rights of national minorities and pays particular attention to the situation of Roma and Sinti.
OSCE police operations are an integral part of the Organization's efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation. The OSCE’s police-related activities focus on challenges posed by trans-national and organized crime, by trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings, failure to uphold the rule of law and by human rights violations. Activities include police education and training, community policing and administrative and structural reforms. Many OSCE field operations run their own programmes on police reform and development.
The OSCE promotes the rights of Roma and Sinti through projects on political participation, education, housing, civil registration, combating racism and discrimination, and protecting the rights of displaced persons.
The concept of rule of law forms a cornerstone of the OSCE's human rights and democratization activities. It not only describes formal legal frameworks, but also aims at justice based on the full acceptance of human dignity.
The OSCE actively supports its 57 participating States in combating all forms of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, and discrimination against Christians and Muslims.