The OSCE can provide a crucial contribution to security and cooperation in Europe, but to do so effectively requires a critical reflection on its methods of work. This is one of the conclusions that can be drawn from the report on The Future of OSCE Field Operations that was presented at the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference, in December 2014 in Basel.
According to Barend ter Haar of the Clingendael Institute, it is high time to consider what lessons can be learned from past and current OSCE field activities, in particular in view of the important role the OSCE currently has to play in Ukraine. What are the comparative advantages and the comparative deficits of OSCE field operations and which improvements are needed?
Since the launch of the first OSCE field operations in the early 1990s, the number of different types of OSCE field operations has proliferated. Although they differ in many respects, because each of them is tailor-made, they share a number of common features. These include:
- deployment for a long, but not unlimited, period of time;
- a consensus-based mandate;
- a Memorandum of Understanding between the host state and the OSCE;
- their own budget.
The report on The Future of OSCE Field Operations of the OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions - of which Clingendael is also a member - is the first major effort to draw lessons from past experiences and to present recommendations for the future of OSCE field operations. It is the second report of the Network. Its first report, on Threat Perceptions in the OSCE Area was published in April 2014.