Odd Gunnar Skagestad, Deputy Director-General, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1999-2000, Ambassador on secondment to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as Head of the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnia (Oslo, Norway)

The OSCE Field Operations

Gradually evolving from the embryonic détente initiatives of the 1970s, and having braved the Charybdian rocks of the still lingering Cold War of the 1980s, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) finally emerged as a full-fledged international organization with the renaming in 1995 of what had previously been known as The Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). On its website, the OSCE now boasts of being the worlds largest regional security organization whose 55 participating States span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The objectives of the OSCE are, broadly speaking, concerned with early warning, conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation. Its listing of activities also includes such tasks as anti-trafficking, arms control, border management, combating terrorism, conflict and democratization.

The OSCEs main tools in carrying out these tasks are its field operations. Acting under the directions from the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna, and under the general auspices of the organizations Chairman-in-Council, the field operations comprise a number of rather diverse groupseach one with a specific mandate according to the problem(s) to be addressed in their respective operational areas.

At the time of the writing (February 2008), the OSCE maintains 19 field operations in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. These are the following:

  •  OSCE Presence in Albania
  •  OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina
  •  OSCE Mission to Croatia
  •  OSCE Mission to Serbia and Montenegro
  •  OSCE Mission in Kosovo
  •  OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje
  •  OSCE Office in Minsk
  •  OSCE Mission to Moldova
  •  OSCE Project-Coordinator in Ukraine
  •  OSCE Office in Baku
  •  OSCE Mission to Georgia
  •  OSCE Office in Erevan
  •  Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office on the Conflict Dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference
  •  OSCE Center in Astana
  •  OSCE Center in Ashghabad
  •  OSCE Center in Bishkek
  •  OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan
  •  OSCE Center in Dushanbe
  • Nine OSCE field operations which were previously in business, have subsequently been closed down. These were:

  •  OSCE Missions of Long Duration in Kosovo, Sandjak and Vojvodina
  •  OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission
  •  OSCE Representative to the Joint Committee on the Skrunda Radar Station
  •  OSCE Mission to Ukraine
  •  OSCE Mission to Estonia
  •  OSCE Mission to Latvia
  •  OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus
  •  OSCE Center in Tashkent
  •  OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnia
  • The last on this listthe OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnia, in which the author of this article served as Head of Mission from January 1999 to January 2000was in existence from 1995 to 2002. The purpose of the present article is to give an account, including a modest attempt of making an analysis, of the endeavor and the modalities (including the obstacles) which the OSCE involvement in the Chechen issue entailed.

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