The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, abbreviated as OSCE, consists of 57 member states from North America, Europe and Asia, is the World’s largest regional security organization. Its main focus lies on creating democratic stability, the promotion of human rights, and freedom of the press as well as establishing fair elections. The OSCE was established during the Cold War era, especially the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. During that time, it served as framework for communication between the East and the West. Its main secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria. Ambassadors of the OSCE meet on a weekly basis in the Permanent Council, the regular decision-making body, where military aspects of security are discussed. A Ministerial Council is held every year to reflect on activities of the past and to arrange possible new directions. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is especially responsible for election observation. The Representative on Freedom of the Media observes developments of media and offers early warning of violation of freedom of expression. The tool for conflict prevention, the High Commissioner on National Minorities, acts to solve tensions that could endanger peace through diplomacy and early action. The Parliamentary Assembly, consisting of more than 300 members from the parliaments of the OSCE’s member states, advocates accountability and co-operation. These parliamentarians are important for field visits and election observation activities. Decisions in the OSCE are taken by consensus and are politically but not legally binding. The OSCE is responsible for strengthening international security. It tries to achieve it through the politico-military, the economic and environmental and the human dimension. Regarding military matters, the OSCE seeks openness and co-operation of its member states and has created the world’s most advanced administration of arms control. The OSCE tries to tackle environmental issues by promoting good governance and environmental awareness. Additionally, the OSCE helps its participating states to create strong democratic institutions that hold fair elections, so that media freedom, the rule of law and the promotion of non-discrimination are possible.
Topic I: Solving Armed Conflicts in Europe
In the past few decades, armed conflicts on the European continent have been rather rare, yet they have impacted the stability of the region to great extent. Currently there are only three major conflicts situated in the Ukraine, the North Caucasus and Northern Ireland. Although some of these conflicts have had a decrease in activity, they still pose a threat to the stability of various areas. The situation in Ukraine is best described to be a civil war between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian separatist supported by a large force of Russian paramilitary forces. The conflict began in April 2014 after the controversial referendum and annexation of Crimea by fellow OSCE member, the Russian Federation. Pro-Russian forces have ever since occupied the Donbass sector of Ukraine with the help of Russian military forces, whose incursion was justified by their president as: “defending the Russian-speaking population in Donbass”. This caused retaliation as countries imposed sanctions on the Russians. Throughout the past few years, there have been copious attempts by both sides to establish ceasefires. The conflict has caused around 10.000 deaths since it started and the OSCE has been monitoring the situation, considering that two of its member states are affected by it. The Northern Caucasus Insurgency is part of the territorial War on Terror that has mostly affected parts of the Middle East. It began after the resolution of the Second Chechen War, affiliates of Al-Qaeda, and soon after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, began a guerrilla campaign, which aims to occupy the Republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and others. The Russian Federation has intervened and offered support since 2009. This conflict takes hundreds of lives every year and is the first true attempt of an incursion by Islamic Extremist forces on European soil. The Northern Irish situation is mostly resolved and therefore will not be widely discussed, considering that the United Kingdom and Ireland have the resources needed to deal with the last few “New IRA” cells. However, strategies applied in the other conflicts might help with dealing with the situation in Northern Ireland. The OSCE requires all its members to be able to rely on each other and be sensible in resolving conflicts that are destabilising the European continent. The OSCE is also dedicated towards arms control which would also require a strategy to ensure that no weapons are smuggled and sold illegally in these conflict areas.
Topic II: Integrated Strategies Against Foreign Interference in Democratic Processes
Elections are the foundation of every democracy. The elections in democracies must be fair and free, and with an equal opportunity for all candidates. Foreign electoral interventions are attempts by external powers, to influence elections, or their results. Recently, the international community faced pleasant efforts, made by the Russian Federation and its proxies to influence chosen elections and referendums. In fact, it is demanding to measure the impact of these efforts. Foreign interference in democratic processes has been nothing new to the international political landscape. During the Cold War it had almost become a certainty in any election, causing suspicion and distrust both internationally and nationally. During the latest American elections, there was a wave of information coming from the American intelligence community, which suggested Russian interference. This caused all civilized countries to recoil and expect tampering by other nations in their own elections. Some nations began ramping up all kinds of security to protect their processes, especially considering that most countries try to be as transparent as possible during elections. In the digital era, many countries are concerned about cyber interference in their democratic processes and elections. Therefore, the G7 stated in their Declaration on Responsible States Behaviour in Cyberspace, that states should cooperate and share information about measures to protect their cyber infrastructure from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) threats, into account of the General Assembly resolution 58/199 on the creation of a global culture of cybersecurity and the protection of critical information infrastructures. The OSCE has been monitoring and providing assistance to all its members upon request. However, the members could achieve more by providing a strategy agreed upon by all to secure their elections and allowing the OSCE to have a greater role in administration and provide technical expertise that could prove vital to the upholding of democracy within a country.