The end of the Cold War and the course of events following the fall of the Berlin Wall have meant that many organizations that emerged during the Cold War have had to reconsider and broaden their activities. It has also made it necessary for organizations to find ways to collaborate with each other.
The conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s was the contributing factor to the development of cooperation between several European organizations working on security issues – such as the EU, the OSCE and the NATO military alliance. For example, the then ESC (later the OSCE) and the EU in 1992 set up monitoring groups in six countries, in order to assist them in monitoring compliance with UN sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro. The groups operated in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Hungary, as well as in Ukraine. The EU and the OSCE have also co-operated on the so-called Stability Pact of 1995, which aims to prevent conflicts in the Baltics and Central Europe. The pact was originally an EU initiative.
Peacekeeping missions are an area where there is scope for extensive cooperation between NATO and the OSCE. As the OSCE’s experience and capacity in this area is limited and the organization is unable to mobilize military resources for a major peacekeeping operation, a partner with such capabilities, such as NATO, may be needed.
The EU countries and NATO countries also form important groupings within the OSCE, where they gather around a common line. The EU is the most influential group on most issues. As EU countries have strengthened security policy cooperation, the EU’s role within the OSCE has become increasingly central.
The NATO countries, in turn, act as a cohesive group on military policy issues. This applies first and foremost to the CFE agreement and the deliberations of the OSCE Security Forum in Vienna.
Standing for Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe according to Abbreviationfinder, the OSCE also cooperates with the UN and the Council of Europe. The OSCE is considered a regional organization in accordance with the UN Charter, with responsibility for ensuring international peace and security in the region. The OSCE and the UN work together to prevent conflicts and resolve crises in a wide range of countries, not least in the Balkans.
This is how the UN and the OSCE have been cooperating since the summer of 1999 on the reconstruction of Kosovo after the war, while a NATO-led force under the auspices of the UN has ensured security in the area.
The OSCE cooperates with the Council of Europe, the leading European human rights organization, on human rights and democracy issues. Important areas of co-operation are to build democratic institutions in the former Eastern Bloc states and to monitor elections. In Kosovo, for example, the OSCE is an important source of information for the Council of Europe on the situation in society, not least with regard to the situation of minorities.
At the same time as the OSCE and the other organizations have extensive co-operation, it has become increasingly difficult to get an overview of the activities of all the different organizations. There is a risk that this will lead to duplication and competition. The OSCE Security Charter, adopted at the 1999 Istanbul Summit, includes a so-called Security Cooperation Platform. It sets out the framework for the OSCE’s cooperation with other international and regional actors.
The OSCE cooperates with a number of countries that are not members of the organization. Already with the establishment of the ESC in the 1970’s, co-operation was initiated with a number of non-European countries in the Mediterranean region. Today, eleven countries in the Mediterranean and Asia, as well as Australia, have the status of the OSCE’s partner.
Cooperation with non-governmental organizations
The OSCE welcomes cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The NGOs have been vital to the political transformation that Europe has undergone, and they have drawn important impetus from the OSCE in their democratization efforts.
Several NGOs have taken the OSCE as a starting point for the direction of their activities. In addition, some have marked a connection with the OSCE through their choice of name.
Since the cradle of the OSCE stood in Helsinki, the city has become a kind of synonym for the OSCE: the Helsinki Committees, Helsinki Watch, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly and the US Helsinki Commission are some examples.
While, for example, the UN has a cumbersome application procedure, the OSCE simply accepts the voluntary organizations that identify themselves as such. The OSCE’s Secretariat for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, in particular, handles the OSCE’s contacts with NGOs. The cooperation has included support for voluntary organizations in countries such as Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
The minority commissioner has also built up close contact with various voluntary organizations in his activities and the Representative for the Freedom of the Media, when he took office in January 1998, described the voluntary organizations as important partners. There is also close co-operation between OSCE representatives and NGOs in the field.
Sweden and the OSCE
During the first 15 years of the European Security Conference, Sweden was a key member of the neutral and non-aligned group, which, together with the NATO and Warsaw Pact states, was part of the Cold War group division. The neutral and non-aligned group acted as a bridge-builder and compromise mediator between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. As a member of this group, Sweden pursued an ESC policy that mainly aimed at calming the contradictions and creating trust between East and West.
After the end of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, and ESC cooperation between the neutral and non-aligned states died down.
Sweden’s membership of the EU from 1 January 1995 created new conditions for Swedish influence within the OSCE. Sweden is now working to make the EU a strong player in OSCE work.
What Sweden primarily wants to strengthen is the OSCE’s work within the human dimension (see above), ie issues concerning human rights, democracy and gender equality. The OSCE’s conflict prevention work through activities in the field is also a priority for Sweden.
Sweden participates with personnel in several field missions and has, among other things, contributed police officers to the operation in Croatia. Several Swedes have held important positions within the OSCE.
Sweden also participates actively in the OSCE’s election observation.