The OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization, comprising a broad membership of 57 participating States, covering the region from Vancouver to Vladivostok. It is the only pan-European regional arrangement under the terms of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. The Organization has a unique comprehensive and co-operative approach to security, viewing it in three main dimensions: the politico-military, the economic and environmental, and the human. Its decision-making process is based on consensus; each participating State enjoys equal status. Decisions are politically but not legally binding. This makes the OSCE an important forum for political dialogue on security in Europe.
Over the years, the OSCE has become a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and port-conflict rehabilitation in its area. It addresses a wide range of security-related matters, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, election observation, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism, and economic and environmental activities.
Since its inception as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), following the adopting of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, it has pioneered a broad and practical approach to dialogue and co-operation on security, not only among its culturally and religiously heterogeneous participating States, but also with Mediterranean and, later, Asian partner States. Its 56 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation comprise a total population of some 1.6 billion people.