OSCE – Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe
The main result of the OSCE’s disarmament work is the CFE Agreement (Agreement on Conventional Forces in Europe; see Progress). This agreement involved the scrapping of 50,000 major weapons systems in Europe. The millennial dream of forging swords into plowshares thus seemed to come true. The agreement did not initially concern all OSCE participating States, but only members of the former Warsaw Pact and NATO. According to abbreviationfinder, OSCE is known as Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.
The CFE agreement involves a comprehensive exchange of military information and close surveillance of military forces, as well as radical cuts, especially in the former Soviet Union, of five categories of conventional weapons: tanks, artillery, armored vehicles, fighter jets and attack helicopters.
The agreement covers the entire European area from the Atlantic to the Urals. This originally meant that each side, formerly the Warsaw Pact and NATO, was not allowed to have more than 20,000 tanks, 30,000 armored vehicles, 20,000 artillery pieces, 6,800 fighter jets and 2,000 attack helicopters in this area. In addition, Russia must destroy or rework a large number of tanks, armored vehicles and artillery pieces, which the Soviet Union had moved to the area east of the Urals before the CFE agreement was signed. The cuts were completed on 15 November 1995. The CFE Agreement is valid indefinitely and, unlike the OSCE Agreements, is a legally binding treaty. The Treaty was later supplemented by a politically binding agreement, CFE 1a,
The CFE agreement has an efficient control machinery. Thousands of inspectors check that the agreement is complied with. This also gives the parties a significant insight into the other party’s military apparatus and knowledge of his thinking. So far, everyone has followed the demanding provisions of the agreement, with only minor deviations.
There is no doubt that the CFE agreement has made a significant contribution to European security. This benefits not only the parties to the agreement, but also other European countries. It is often said that there is hardly any OSCE State that does not describe the CFE Agreement as a “cornerstone” of European security architecture.
Despite this, various problems with the application of the agreement soon arose. Following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union and later NATO enlargement with new member states from the former Warsaw Pact, the balance sheet thinking that permeated the CFE agreement faltered.
In 1996, it was agreed to revise and make some adjustments to the agreement in order to adapt it to the new security policy situation in Europe. That review was completed in 1999, and a new, adapted CFE agreement could be signed at the Istanbul Summit the same year. Even states that were not part of the original CFE agreement between NATO and the Warsaw Pact were given the opportunity to join if they so wished. However, Sweden is not included in the agreement.
A number of countries, mainly NATO members, never ratified the adapted CFE agreement. They considered that Russia was not fulfilling its commitments from the Istanbul meeting to withdraw Russian troops and military equipment from Moldova. Russia, in turn, suspended its implementation of the adapted CFE agreement in 2007 on the grounds that the agreement had not been ratified by NATO countries.
In March 2015, Russia also suspended its participation in the CFE Joint Consultative Group, a forum for discussing arms control, thus closing a communication channel to the West and completely terminating its commitments under the CFE. The move was seen as a direct result of the conflict between Russia and NATO that erupted after the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March 2014 and later Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. The events in Ukraine to some extent brought Europe back to the Cold War that prevailed until the early 1990’s.
In 2000, the OSCE Security Forum adopted a document on small arms. The countries have committed themselves to control the manufacture, sale, marking and possession of small arms.
The human dimension
The human dimension is a concept that first began to be used during the two-year Vienna meeting, which began in 1986. The term usually refers to issues relating to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The principle of respect for human rights was enshrined in the 1975 Final Act, and over the next two decades Member States adopted additional regulations and developed controls on their compliance. For the revolutionary transition to a democratic system of society in Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the principles of human rights served as a catalyst. Not least important for cooperation in the human dimension is that all OSCE States now accept transparency and interference in each other’s affairs.
During the Vienna Summit, the control of respect for human rights was developed through the so-called Vienna Mechanism, a procedure for exchanging information on the human rights situation in the participating states. This gave one state the right to demand information from another state on human rights issues and the right to request a meeting. The requested state is obliged to respond and to appear at requested meetings. In addition, OSCE States have the right to disseminate information on human rights to other States Parties.
Another of the advances of the Vienna Summit was the decision to hold a conference on the human dimension, which, to the great surprise of the West, was based on a Soviet proposal. The conference on the human dimension was divided into three different meetings: the first in Paris in 1989, the second in Copenhagen in 1990 and the third, finally, in Moscow in 1991.
The Paris meeting was held in a chilly east-west climate and ended without any concrete results.
At the Copenhagen summit, the political situation in Europe had changed radically, and the results were therefore far-reaching. In addition to agreeing on commitments in a number of areas, the states also agreed that future societies would be based on democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
The conference in Moscow took place only a few weeks after the failed coup attempt against the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the autumn of 1991. The meeting sharpened the former Vienna mechanism by introducing the possibility of using experts and reporters. Among other things, it became possible for a Member State to invite an expert group to assist in resolving an issue related to the human dimension. The organization was also given the right to send up to three rapporteurs to a state against its will, if it is considered that there is a serious threat to any of the commitments within the human dimension.
The monitoring of the human dimension also takes place in other forms. The mandate of the field missions often includes some form of monitoring and advice on human rights, the judiciary or democracy. The task of the minority commissioner to identify threatening hotbeds of conflict where minorities are involved is also of central importance.
There is also a special secretariat for democratic institutions and human rights, the ODIHR, which monitors the elections in various OSCE States and is democratic and fair, and which has a certain responsibility to monitor the implementation of the human dimension. During the first years of the 21st century, election observation became a source of controversy, especially between Russia and other member states, as OSCE observers criticized the electoral process in several former Soviet republics. Russia has accused OSCE observers of double standards and attempts to incite political upheaval in Georgia and Ukraine, among others.
The disagreement will concern such fundamental issues as the OSCE’s legitimacy as an organization, its activities and the values on which it will be based.
The disagreement intensified in the following years. Russia, Belarus and several other countries of the former Soviet Union claimed that the ODIHR had a political bias and too quickly came up with accusations of electoral fraud instead of acting as a support for the host country. When Russia, in the run-up to its parliamentary elections in December 2007, only agreed to issue visas to 300 ODIHR election monitors, the organization chose not to send any at all.
Russia has called for a better balance between the OSCE’s three original “dimensions” – security, economic and human.