OSCE Structure

Negotiating and Decision-Making Bodies

OSCE has several bodies for decision-making: Summits at the highest political level, Ministerial Councils and sessions of the Permanent Council. OSCE Summits (Summits) is the highest body of the Organization, which includes the participation of Heads of States for the purpose of establishing the OSCE priorities and setting up the priorities at the highest political level. Seven Summits have been held so far. The first head of State and Government meeting was held in Helsinki in 1975, and the latest one in Astana, Kazakhstan on 1st and 2nd December, 11 years after the previous one.

Meanwhile, the priorities and objectives are tried to be defined at the ministerial level. Therefore, the Ministerial Councils (Ministerial Councils), which meets once a year at the ministries of foreign affairs level (usually towards the end of every term of chairmanship of one OSCE participating State) in period between the Summits, represents the central body that considers issues relevant to the OSCE and takes appropriate decisions. Fifteen meetings of the Ministerial Councils have been held until present, the last took place in Madrid in November 2007.

Permanent Council of the OSCE (Permanent Council) is the main body for regular political consultations and decision making for current issues in OSCE covered areas. This body is in charge of day-to-day activities of the Organisation. Chairmanship rotates annually, as is the Chairmanship of OSCE. The current Chairperson-in-office of the Permanent Council is Lithuania's Ambassador to the OSCE Renatas Norkus. Chairperson-in-office of the Permanent Council is in charge of the programme and organisation of the Council's work, and he organises informal meetings with member-states' representatives for negotiation on decisions, statements and documents later adopted by respective bodies. Delegations, i.e. representations at the permanent council, belongs to member-states' diplomats, headed by ambassadors – heads of missions to OSCE – and the meetings are held weekly. Occasionally, heads of State and Government or Foreign Ministers and international organisations' high representatives speak at the so-called Special Sessions of the Permanent Council. Particularly sensitive issues are discussed at Reinforced Plenary Sessions in which states are represented by Foreign Ministers. The Permanent Council has an important role in precipitating dialogue among member-states. By providing opportunity for exchange of opinions and critical overview it serves as an early-warning instrument and enables smaller states to acquaint 'key players' with their views.

Forum for Security Co-operation (Forum for Security Co-operation) is an autonomous decision-making body where member-states representatives convene weekly for consultations on the military aspect of security and stability in the OSCE region, and in particular to discuss measures aimed at building trust. FSC was established in 1992 by the mandate from the 1992 Helsinki Act. From 2002 the FSC presidency rotates annually and is held by three countries at a time. This year they are Ireland, Italy and Kazakhstan.

Economic and Environmental Forum (Economic and Environmental Forum) is a body that discusses key challenges in the economic and environment cooperation dimension and is an important contributor to democracy-building and stability. The Forum is held annually at a high level. In 2006 it was held in two parts – the first one in Vienna in January and the closing one in Prague in May. One of the hottest topics at the OSCE in latest year is the relation between environmental protection and economic stability, which determines the topics of annual meetings of the Forum. Under the economic-environmental dimension, having in mind the comprehensiveness of the concept of security, operates the Office of Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA). The OSCE Co-ordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities, as of December 1st 2008, is Goran Svilanović (Serbia).