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Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the most encompassing form of interstate linking in the Northern hemisphere, aimed at safeguarding peace, security and strengthening mutual cooperation. Presently, the Organization brings together 57 participating States from North America, Europe and Asia, or, as it is popularly referred to in OSCE jargon, it stretches “from Vancouver to Vladivostok”. It is considered to be an atypical international organization, as it does not have a founding treaty in the form of a legal act to be signed and ratified by the participating States, but it operates on the basis of a larger number of important political documents that are politically binding. Decisions are taken by consensus (harmonization), which enables all the participating States to have equal voting rights. OSCE activities are based on a comprehensive security concept and are carried out through three dimensions – military-political, economic-environmental and the human dimension, and a number of multidimensional activities.

OSCE history begins with the convening of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (1973-1975) which resulted in the adoption of the already famous Helsinki Final Act, in the summer of 1975, which is one of the key political documents that has not only marked an era, but is considered to be one of the most important documents, after the Charter of the United Nations. Only after the adoption of the Charter of Paris in 1990, the permanent institutions were formed, and in 1995 the Conference was renamed into Organization. Since that time, numerous bodies and institutions were established (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, 1991; High Commissioner on National Minorities, 1992; Representative on Freedom of the Media, 1997), including the Secretariat, headed by the Secretary General.

Political responsibility for the work of the OSCE lies with its Chairperson-in-Office, the foreign minister of the country holding the OSCE Chairmanship. The Organization is chaired by one of its participating States for a one-year period, based on the decision of the OSCE Ministerial Council.  

The Chairmanship is supported by the former and next Chairmanships, who together form the OSCE Troika, and the Secretary General, who ensures a follow-up to the  OSCE activities.

Continuous dialogue and negotiations take place in Vienna, where the Permanent Representatives of the participating States and Cooperation Partners meet weekly in the Permanent Council, a decision-making body which is at the same time a debating forum on current issues of importance for security. Apart from the Permanent Council, meetings of the Forum for Security Co-operation, where the participating States take decisions regarding military security aspects in the OSCE region, in particular confidence- and security building measures. Three Committees have been active since 2007, and each of them covers a specific OSCE dimension. More importantly, there is a number of Ad Hoc Committees, groups and bodies established as a framework for talks on issues of particular concern.

Aside from permanent bodies, the Organization has the possibility of creating additional executive structures and mechanisms, if the participating States so agree. OSCE field operations, currently 16 of them, are certainly the most widely known, and the Organization deploys them in the field with the consent of the host country.

The Republic of Serbia became an OSCE participating State on 10th November 2000 (as the successor State to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), and has been its member even since. On 27th November 2000, at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Vienna, it signed the basic OSCE documents, accepting all the norms, standards and commitments resulting therefrom. Serbia actively participates in all the OSCE activities, and in the work of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. As a country on the path towards EU accession, Serbia is committed to cooperation with OSCE, particularly when it comes to the reform process and attaining high democratic standards. Serbia is doing this through partner relations and successful cooperation, primarily with the OSCE Mission in Serbia and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK), but with other missions in the region as well.


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