What does OSCE Stand for?

According to abbreviationfinder, OSCE is the acronym for Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is a security organization that brings together all European countries, as well as the United States, Canada, and the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus; consequently, the 57 participating States cover the geographical area between Vancouver and Vladivostok.


Conceived as a vehicle for detente between the two enemy blocs of the Cold War, the CSCE, later converted into the OSCE, aspires to be a determining organization in the security policy of the entire Old Continent. At the same time, it assumes the challenge of promoting and strengthening democratization processes, crisis management and respect for human rights in the 57 countries that comprise it.


The fall of communism and the violent conflicts that accompanied the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia marked the main stages through which the organization has passed. On July 3, 1973, in Helsinki, the Foreign Ministers of 35 nations officially inaugurated the CSCE and two years later, between July 30 and August 1, 1975, the Final Act of the CSCE was signed by the first leaders of the thirty-five member states. The first follow – up meeting of the Conference took place between October 1977 and March 1978, in Belgrade. Between November from 1980 to September 1983, the work on its implementation continued in Madrid. On September 9, 1983, the final document was signed, highlighting the relaxation achieved on security issues, although it pointed out the deterioration of the international situation after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Different meetings were then held and it was precisely, in December 1994, at the Budapest summit, that the CSCE ceased to be a conference to become an organization, which from January 1, 1995 it was renamed the OSCE and set its headquarters in Vienna. At that time, the 52 Member States pledged to give it a new impetus to meet the challenges of the 21st century. However, the Budapest summit failed due to differences between Russia and the West over NATO enlargement and the war in Bosnia.

Since then, various ministerial and heads of government summits have been held, the last one in December 2010 in Astana (Kazakhstan). The OSCE carries out its activities and takes decisions by the rule of consensus. The organization maintains cooperative relations with the UN and its related agencies, the European Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), NATO, and the Council of Europe. The OSCE also includes the “Partners for Cooperation” countries (Afghanistan, Japan, Republic of Korea and Thailand).), as well as the “Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation” (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia).

OSCE activities

The OSCE carries out its activities and takes its decisions by the rule of consensus. Their obligations and commitments are of a political nature. Both features give this Organization its specific character, as it is the most important regional Organization after the United Nations. Its relations with other international organizations and institutions are developed on the basis of a spirit of cooperation and coordination, trying not to duplicate their respective tasks. The organizations with which the OSCE maintains cooperative relations are, mainly, the UN and its related organizations, the European Union, NATO, the CIS, and the Council of Europe..

On the other hand, the OSCE includes the Partners for Co-operation (Afghanistan, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand), as well as the Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia).

The OSCE deals with a network of missions on the ground, distributed throughout its geographical space, whose mission is to facilitate the resolution of existing or pending conflicts in which some participating States are involved. OSCE missions are spread within South Eastern Europe (Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia); Eastern Europe (Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine); Caucasus (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia); and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan).

Discussions and deliberations leading to decision-making are aimed at improving, creating and monitoring the OSCE political acquis in its three dimensions: politico-military dimension; human dimension; and economic and environmental dimension. These three dimensions respond to the broad approach that the OSCE gives to security, defining itself as the primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its area. Likewise, the 56 participating states enjoy equal status based on a cooperative approach in the development of their functions as a regional organization for security and cooperation throughout their geographic space.


The OSCE institutions are:

  • the Summit of Heads of State and Government (whose frequency is discretionary);
  • the Ministerial Council (which brings together once a year the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the participating States in the country that holds the Presidency-in-Office);
  • the Permanent Council (which brings together the Permanent Representative Ambassadors of the participating States weekly in Vienna and is the OSCE’s main decision-making and political consultation body);
  • the Parliamentary Assembly (made up of more than 300 parliamentarians from all OSCE participating States, and whose main annual session takes place in July);
  • the Forum for Security Cooperation (which deals with arms control and confidence- and security-building measures);
  • The Chairmanship of the OSCE, exercised annually by a member country. Currently, it is held by Ivica Dacic (2015), a Serbian. On which they directly depend:
    • the Special Representative of the President-in-Office for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons (Trafficking in Human Beings);
    • the Personal Representative for the Conflict related to the Minsk Conference;
    • the Representative for Freedom of the Media;
    • the High Commissioner for National Minorities; Y
    • the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
  • the Secretary General of the OSCE (position currently held by the Italian diplomat, Lamberto Zannier(2011)). The following units report to the Secretariat: Action Against Terrorism Unit (UAT); the Conflict Prevention Center (CPC); Foreign Cooperation; Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities of the OSCE; Unit for Strategic Police Affairs; and a Training Section.

Member countries

There are currently 57, all from the northern hemisphere. The OSCE was created on June 25, 1973 with 35 countries, but it was not until August 1, 1975 that the Helsinki Act was signed.

The list of countries by year is as follows:

  • 1973(35): West Germany (1973 – 1990), East Germany (1973 – 1990), Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia (1973 – 1992), Denmark, Spain, United States, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy,Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Romania, San Marino, Holy See, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, USSR (1973-1990), Yugoslavia (1973-1992).
  • 1990(34): Germany
  • 1991(35): Albanian
  • 1992(51): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
  • 1993(52): Slovakia and Czech Republic
  • 1995(53): Republic of Macedonia
  • 1996(54): Andorra
  • 2000(55): Serbia and Montenegro (2000 – 2006)