Who We Are
Who we are
The OSCE has a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses politico-military, economic and environmental, and human aspects. It therefore addresses a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities. All 57 participating States enjoy equal status, and decisions are taken by consensus on a politically, but not legally binding basis.
"Security begins..." is a short animated film exploring what 'security' can mean.
The Organization comprises 57 participating States that span the globe, encompassing three continents - North America, Europe and Asia - and more than a billion people.
The OSCE maintains special relations with 11 countries, which are known as Partners for Co-operation. Six of them are in the Mediterranean region, and four are in Asia, in addition to Australia.
The OSCE Chairmanship is held for one calendar year by the OSCE participating State designated as such by a decision of the Ministerial Council. The function of the Chairperson-in-Office (CiO) is exercised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that State.
Summits are periodic meetings of Heads of State or Government of OSCE participating States that set priorities at the highest political level. During periods between summits, decision-making and governing power lies with the Ministerial Council.
Ministerial Councils are convened in those years when no Summit takes place to review OSCE activities and to make appropriate decisions.
The Permanent Council, one of the main regular decision-making bodies of the Organization, convenes weekly in Vienna to discuss developments in the OSCE area and to make appropriate decisions.
The Forum works to increase military security and stability in Europe and covers some of the most fundamental politico-military agreements of the OSCE participating States. It helps implement landmark confidence and security-building measures to regulate the exchange of military information and mutual verification between states, as well as the Code of Conduct, a key document ensuring the democratic control of security forces. The Forum also develops norms and provides practical assistance to address the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons; deals with non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and oversees the regular contact, co-operation, and sharing of military information among the participating States.
While, strictly speaking, no initiatives of the Organization as such, several bodies are directly related to the OSCE. The Open Skies Consultative Commission is the implementing body of the Open Skies Treaty, which in 2002 established a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territory of its 34 signatories. The Commission regularly meets at the OSCE in Vienna and maintains several informal working groups of experts that deal with technical issues related to the Treaty. Another body is the Joint Consultative Group, which is based in Vienna and deals with questions related to the compliance of states with the provisions of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
The OSCE is funded by contributions from its 57 participating States.
The OSCE traces its origins to the détente phase of the early 1970s, when the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was created to serve as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiation between East and West.