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OSZE – eine unverzichtbare Organisation © Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Hamburg

OSCE - a vital organisation

Brief overview of OSCE's history and objectives - world's largest regional security organisation

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Ministerial Council meeting on December 8-9, 2016 in Hamburg is the climax of Germany’s chairmanship. The event will be held at the invitation of the 2016 OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier under the theme “Renewing dialogue, Rebuilding Trust and Restoring Trust”. One of the OSCE’s main strategies is promoting trust by de-escalating conflicts.

Peace, stability and democracy for over 1 billion people

The OSCE’s 57 member states are in Europe, northern and central Asia, North America and cover most of the Northern Hemisphere. The OSCE’s objectives are early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. Thus it is committed to peace, democracy and stability for over 1 billion people across the globe. The OSCE’s mandate includes issues such as arms control, terrorism, good governance, energy security, human trafficking, democratisation, freedom of the press and national minorities. These issues are dealt with through the OSCE’s institutions, technical units and a network of field operations.

Validity of human rights – Helsinki Final Act

The OSCE is rooted in the 1973 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), which set out to conduct joint projects in culture, science, economy, environmental protection and disarmament and advance and protect human rights in Europe. After negotiations lasting two years, the Helsinki Final Act was signed by the 35 participating states. The obligations reached are still valid today. They include the inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, peaceful regulation of international disputes, non-interference in domestic affairs, renunciation of the use of force, sovereign equality, equality and self-determination of peoples as well respect of human rights including freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.

Three-dimensional security concept

Eventually in 1994, CSCE emerged from OSCE and took effect on January 1, 1995. Apart from the Helsinki Final Act, other milestones on the OSCE’s path to an extensive security concept include the Charter of Paris (1990), the European Security adopted in Istanbul in 1999 and the Astana Summit Declaration (2010). This covers the three dimensions of the OSCE: politico-military, economic-environmental and the human dimension. OSCE’s financing is reliant on the economic performance of member states. The budget for 2016 came to around EUR 141 million putting in on a par with that of 2015. Thus, for the first time in five years, the OSCE’s budget has not dropped under the level of the previous year. Austria takes over the chairmanship of OSCE in 2017.

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