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Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) first saw the light of day in 1975 as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and in 1992 was recognized as a Regional Arrangement under Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations. In 1994 the CSCE became the OSCE. The main activities of the OSCE include preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention and crisis management and the reconstruction and consolidation of democratic structures in post-conflict societies. The OSCE thus plays an active role in promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In the politico-military sphere the Organization seeks to reduce tensions and strengthen mutual trust by means of openness, transparency and predictability, thus contributing to mutual arms control in its own area. The OSCE consists of 57 Participating States, which since 1975 include Switzerland.
The OSCE takes a comprehensive view of security, with the following three dimensions:
- Politico-military dimension
Confidence and security building, arms control and combating transnational threats
- Economic and environmental dimension
Economic development and sustainable utilisation of resources
- Human dimension
Protection of human rights, building democratic structures and promoting the rule of law
The OSCE includes a number of political bodies and permanent institutions dedicated to achieving these objectives:
In addition, the OSCE has 17 field operations in various Participating States. Their tasks include early warning and conflict prevention as well as support for governments and authorities. The OSCE field operations help to achieve normalisation in post-conflict situations and support democratic transformation processes. One instrument that has proven its worth is the observation of elections.
Switzerland views the OSCE as an important platform for discussions on European security architecture. When it assumed the chairmanship of the OSCE in 1996 Switzerland put particular emphasis on Transatlantic and Eurasian cooperation. Switzerland sees the Organization as a forum for the discussion of security policy questions with the various nations of Europe and Central Asia as well as the United States and Canada, and actively participates in all important conferences and meetings. Switzerland provides support for OSCE human security and politico-military security projects. Swiss experts are also deployed for key OSCE functions. The Confederation has six seats in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (filled by representatives of both houses of the Swiss parliament).