Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest regional security organization.

The OSCE is a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action by its participating states to improve the lives of their citizens.

 The origins of the organization date back to the early 1970s, when the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was established as a multilateral forum for dialogue and peaceful negotiations between East and West.

On August, 1975, the CSCE approved and signed the Helsinki Final Act, a particularly innovative document that established 10 fundamental principles governing the behaviour of States towards each other, as well as their citizens. These principles are as follows:

  • Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
  • Refraining from the threat or use of force
  •  Inviolability of frontiers
  • Territorial integrity of States
  • Peaceful settlement of disputes
  • Non-intervention in internal affairs
  • Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief
  • Equal rights and self-determination of peoples
  • Co-operation among States
  • Fulfilment in good faith of obligations under international law

Until 1990, the CSCE operated through a series of meetings and conferences on the commitments undertaken by the Participating States. It was only after the end of the Cold War, following the Paris Summit in November 1990, that it was given permanent institutions and operational capacities.

Following the Budapest Summit of Heads of State in December 1994, the name of the CSCE was changed to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, globally recognized by its acronym OSCE.

Through a comprehensive approach to security encompassing the politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions, the OSCE helps to bridge differences and build confidence between States through co-operation in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

In military matters, its task is to achieve greater openness, transparency and co-operation, for which it has developed the world’s most advanced regime of arms control and confidence-building measures.

Economic and environmental issues are also key factors in promoting security. Promoting good governance, tackling corruption, raising environmental awareness, sharing natural resources and managing waste in an environmentally friendly manner are some of the ways in which the OSCE contributes.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the foundation of a stable society. The OSCE helps its participating States to build democratic institutions; to hold free and democratic elections; to ensure respect for human rights, freedom of the media, the rights of national minorities and the rule of law; and to promote tolerance and non-discrimination.

On a broader level, the OSCE addresses those security challenges that pose a transnational threat, such as climate change, terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism, organized crime, cybercrime and drug and arms trafficking, as well as human trafficking.

OSCE and the Helsinki Human Rights Committee

The principles of the Helsinki Act devoted to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms led to the establishment, in Moscow, of the non-governmental organization Helsinki Group, whose purpose was to monitor the implementation of the Helsinki Agreements.

The Helsinki Group was extended with the creation of several regional and national committees, including Helsinki España-Human Dimension.

Since its creation, in 1992, Helsinki Spain has been dedicated to disseminating and promoting the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, working for the respect and defense of human rights through education.

OSCE and Spain

Spain is one of the founding States of the OSCE and has permanent representation in Vienna since 1994.

Spain has had a prominent role in the OSCE since its inception with the initiatives it has promoted within the organization.

Among Spain’s priorities are the participation of young people in security issues, the women, peace and security agenda, the fight against terrorism and the dignification of its victims, the promotion of human rights, the strengthening of democratic institutions and environmental policies.

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