Source description last updated: 29 June 2020

In brief: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a regional intergovernmental organization based in Vienna that focuses on international security matters with the aim to prevent conflict, foster economic development and promote respect of human rights.

Coverage on

Reports (Special and Analytical Report)

Covered twice per week on, for countries of priorities A-C.

Reports published by the OSCE Mission in Kosovo are covered as a separate source on


“The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is the world’s largest regional security organization working to ensure peace and stability for more than a billion people between Vancouver and Vladivostok.” (OSCE: Annual Report 2019, 24 March 2020)

“The Organization comprises 57 participating States that span the globe, encompassing three continents - North America, Europe and Asia” (OSCE website, Participating states, undated).

“The OSCE is a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action to improve the lives of individuals and communities.” (OSCE: What is the OSCE?, 5 December 2019)

“The OSCE’s origins date back to the early 1970s, to the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the creation of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), which during the Cold War served as an important multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiations between East and West. […]

With the end of the Cold War, the Paris Summit of November 1990 set the CSCE on a new course. In the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, the CSCE was called upon to play its part in managing the historic change taking place in Europe and responding to the new challenges of the post-Cold War period. This led to the establishment of permanent structures, including a secretariat and institutions, and the deployment of the first field operations. […]

In 1994, the CSCE was renamed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to reflect more accurately these changes. Since then, the Organization has continued to evolve in order to better address security threats and challenges, while remaining rooted in its founding principles.” (OSCE: What is the OSCE?, 5 December 2019)

“The OSCE has a comprehensive approach to security encompassing three dimensions: the politico-military, the economic and environmental, and the human dimension.” (OSCE: What is the OSCE?, 5 December 2019)

“ODIHR is the human rights institution of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) […]  ODIHR is tasked with assisting governments in meeting their commitments in the field of human rights and democracy. To this effect, ODIHR observes elections, promotes and monitors respect for human rights, and runs democracy assistance projects throughout the OSCE region.” (OSCE/ODIHR: What is ODIHR?, 20 October 2017)


The OSCE is financed by contributions from its participating states. (OSCE website: Funding and Budget, undated)

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: the OSCE’s participating states (located in Europe, Asia and North America)

Thematic focus: democratisation, elections, rule of law, gender issues, human trafficking, minority rights, migration etc. (OSCE website: OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: Mandate, undated)


“ODIHR's election monitoring methodology […] takes account of the situation before, during, and after an election. Instead of just concentrating on election day events witnessed in polling stations, including violations such as ballot-box stuffing or voter intimidation, missions consider the pre-election environment, looking out for violations such as administrative constraints and disregard for fundamental civil and political rights.

A typical election observation mission comprises around 12 core team members, as well as several dozen long-term observers and several hundred short-term observers.

ODIHR's Election Observation Handbook provides the guidelines that observers use to get an in-depth insight into all aspects of the electoral process, beginning with a review of the legal framework, and including the performance of the election administration; the conduct of the campaign; the media environment and equitable media access; the complaints and appeals process; voting, counting, and tabulation; and the announcement of results.

In recent years, ODIHR's methodology has been expanded to take more detailed account of certain issues, including the participation of women and the inclusion of national minorities in the electoral process.” (OSCE website: OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: Elections: Methodology, undated)

For more details on ODHIR’s election methodology, see ODIHR's Election Observation Handbook:

Languages of publication:

English and the relevant local language(s)


All links accessed 29 June 2020