Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe
In February the OSCE chairperson-in-office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, is expected to brief the Council on the activities of the OSCE. He will provide an overview of priorities and plans for its 2011 chairmanship of the organisation. No Council decision is expected.
Key Recent Developments
On 1 January, Lithuania became the 21st state to chair the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) since the establishment of the position of chairperson-in-office in 1991.
Current priorities include:
the settlement of prolonged territorial disputes in the OSCE area, particularly in Transdniestria and South Caucasus, as well as the situation in Georgia;
combating transnational threats, such as cyber security and human and drug trafficking;
promoting human rights as an integral part of ensuring peace and security;
safeguarding freedom of the media and ensuring journalists’ safety;
promoting tolerance through education;
increasing energy security in Europe; and
enhancing cooperation with other regional organisations, such as the EU and NATO.
The OSCE is the largest and most diverse regional arrangement recognised under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, with 56 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America. It has its origins in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, created in 1975 as a forum for dialogue between Cold War rivals. A transformation of the conference to an organisation with a conflict prevention mandate began in the early 1990s and officially took effect on 1 January 1995.
The OSCE is engaged in early-warning activities, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation and operates along three dimensions of security: the human, politico-military and the economic and environmental. Activities focus on arms control, confidence-building measures, protection of human rights and national minorities, democratisation, policing strategies, border management, counterterrorism and economic and environmental measures.
The organisation currently has 17 missions or field-operations in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Two of these are in areas currently on the Security Council’s agenda; there is an OSCE mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one in Kosovo.
The mandate for the OSCE mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina was established under the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995 and focuses on peacebuilding and developing inclusive political processes and democratic institutions that respect the rule of law. The OSCE has also appointed a personal representative of the chairperson-in-office based in Vienna to assist the parties to the Dayton Accords in the implementation of an agreement on subregional arms control.
The OSCE mission in Kosovo—established in 1999 and currently the largest OSCE field presence—with some 650 international and local staff—works closely with the UN Mission in Kosovo. It is engaged in support of democratic institutions and good governance, promotion of human and community rights and improvement of security and public safety.
The OSCE also has field missions in five Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In Kyrgyzstan the OSCE is involved in six core strategic areas—border management and security, rule of law, governance, legislation, environmental and economic priorities and regional cooperation. The OSCE is also involved in Afghanistan, which has been an OSCE partner for co-operation since 2003.
Since 2005 the OSCE chairperson-in-office has been invited to brief the Council annually under rule 39 of its Provisional Rules of Procedure, which allows the Council to invite a person to provide it with information; in 2001 there was a briefing in informal consultations.
An issue for the Council is whether there are options for increased interaction with the OSCE when it considers issues of mutual concern, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Central Asia.
Another option could be to issue a statement following the briefing welcoming the OSCE contributions to the promotion of peace and security. This could note particularly the organisation’s efforts in Central Asia. (This would reinforce the Council’s January press statement [SC/10151] which encouraged further cooperation and coordination between governments in Central Asia, the UN Regional Centre and relevant regional organisations.)
A third option might be to open discussion among experts on possibilities for engaging OSCE input more directly when considering specific issues of mutual concern.
Council members seem to find the annual briefing to be useful, particularly given the Council’s wider discussions on enhancing cooperation with regional organisations. The briefing is also useful for keeping Council members abreast of security developments in the OSCE area that would not otherwise be formally discussed in the Council.
Selected Meeting Records