The “Old” and the “New” CSCE — Institutional Quality and Political Meaning

  • Ingo Peters


In November 1990, the (at that time) 34 CSCE states met at the Paris Summit of heads of states and governments. They adopted the Paris Charta for a New Europe1 which contained basic principles and rules for an intesified co-operation after the East-West conflict had been resolved. Part and parcel of the Charta was the decision to strengthen the CSCE using new structures and institutions which was meant as a cooperative response to the security challenges of the new era. The Paris decisions comprised the following institutional elements:2
  • On the political level a network of regular high-level meetings — summits, council of foreign ministers, follow-up meetings (later: review conferences) were established or formalised. Additionally, periodical meetings of high ranking government officials and diplomats (Committee of Senior Officials) were created to prepare council meetings and to implement common decisions.

  • On a functional level

  1. a.

    Permanent organs were created which provide a small but effective international bureaucracy as a continuous organisational framework for CSCE activities. These working units, on the one hand, give administrative support to the political level (Secretariat in Prague), and on the other hand, specialised agencies carry out various assignments and are in charge of specific policy areas (Bureau of Free Elections in Warsaw, Conflict Prevention Centre in Vienna).

  2. b.

    Instruments for implementing agreed measures have been developed. Dependant on the areas of assignment, these instruments are ascribed to either the political forums or the organs. Mechanisms provide prearranged procedures for consultations and decision-making in conflicts or crisis situations. For example, the purpose of the mechanism for “unusual military activities” (para. 17, Vienna Document 1990) is to deal with acute threat perceptions, another, the “human rights mechanism” can help to tackle acute concern regarding violations of human rights. These mechanisms for example, facilitate the sending of fact-finding or observer missions to gain or verify information, thus serving as basis for political decisions and measures on the national or international level.



Security Council Crisis Management Institutional Quality Foreign Minister Security Challenge 
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© Lit Verlag 1996

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  • Ingo Peters

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