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Research Report

The OSCE in crisis

Pál Dunay
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2006
Pages: 101
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-10)

    The OSCE is in crisis. This is a truism that has been widely recognised by diplomats, international officials and analysts alike. For years now, academic experts and commentators have identified the decline of the OSCE. There can be no doubt but that the OSCE today, as compared to its heyday during the Cold War, is a far less visible landmark on the European institutional landscape than was formerly the case.

    The decline of the OSCE matters to other actors of the European security environment for various reasons. Most importantly, the composition of the OSCE is unique: consisting as it does...

  2. (pp. 11-18)

    The starting assumptions of this chapter on European security are as follows. Ever since the end of the Cold War and the simultaneous invention of European security architecture, power relations and structures of international relations have changed rapidly. In the first years of the so-called post-Cold War era change, particularly in the organisational sense, was extremely swift. This reflected the fundamental reconfiguration of power relations that occurred following the demise of the bipolar system of international relations. The systemic change was accompanied by uncertainty with regard to the nature of the new international security landscape. Assessments varied from the utopian,...

  3. (pp. 19-34)

    The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE: 1975-94), which later evolved into the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE: 1995-), has existed for three decades and thus has had time to accumulate ample experience enabling it to adapt to major political changes. The best demonstration of this wealth of knowledge and experience is that it has already successfully ‘adapted’ before and it may face a new phase of adaptation soon, as indicated by various developments currently affecting the OSCE. The two previous adaptations the CSCE went through were very different however to the situation the organisation...

  4. (pp. 35-64)

    The OSCE has a rich acquis that has developed over three decades. A significant portion was agreed upon at the beginning of the 1990s and reflects the emerging consensus around democratic values and the enthusiasm of those years. It has been enriched since in reaction to the changing environment.34 Recently, in response to the common threat of terrorism, every ministerial council has adopted some text on terrorism. The OSCE as an intergovernmental organisation is extremely skilful in drafting and adopting documents. Its main shortcoming, however, is that the implementation of such documents is often weak, and some decisions – particularly...

  5. (pp. 65-74)

    Most countries expected the emergence of a democratic system of international relations after the end of the Cold War. This has been realized as regards the significant increase in the power of liberal democracies in the system. However, it became obvious early on that the prevalence of democracies does not result in a democratic system in the sense of the UN Charter based on ‘sovereign equality’ of states. Most states of the Euro-Atlantic area are fully integrated in institutions other than the OSCE. For them, the OSCE is just one of the ‘playing fields’ of international politics, and by no...

  6. (pp. 75-84)

    In 2004, Russia and various other NIS states, rather than putting forward progressive proposals to adapt the OSCE’s organisational structure, took a position with regard to the organisation that was severely critical.138 The group, consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan,139 pointed out the imbalance between the three security dimensions and concluded that priorities have shifted in favour of the human dimension with an emphasis on monitoring the human rights situation and the building of democratic institutions in the Commonwealth of Independent States140 and the former Yugoslavia. This was nothing new as similar views had...

  7. (pp. 85-88)

    There is some resemblance between the current situation of the OSCE and that of its predecessor, the CSCE, during the Cold War. Two opponents, the United States and the Russian Federation, have diametrically opposed agendas although they are no longer caught up in a systemic confrontation. Both have short to medium-term objectives. One of them – the United States – has an ambitious democratisation agenda. Several countries in the former Soviet area, including the Russian Federation, that have not gone through democratic change or are backtracking on democracy are resistant to the idea that the OSCE be used as an...

  8. (pp. 89-94)

    The CSCE/OSCE has always been part of political change in Europe and contributed to the transformation of Europe from the Cold War to the post-Cold War era. The single most important question for the future of the organisation is whether it intends to contribute ‘to the process of changing the world’ or whether it intends to find its role ‘within the changing world’.177 If the OSCE is in favour of the former, then a different political role devolves to it than if it is merely prepared to practise self-constraint. Actually the OSCE, unlike some of its participating states, has no...