OSCE Principles in Practice: Testing Their Effect on Security Through the Work of Max van der Stoel, First High Commissioner on National Minorities 1993–2001

Publication Date: 
January 2015
Description: 
CISSM Working Paper
Project: 
The Advanced Methods of Cooperative Security Program
Document Type: 
Working Papers
This monograph tests the OSCE approach to security. The OSCE approach to security encompasses all areas that can cause tensions and conflict between States, and is the result of a sustained effort by almost all of the world’s democracies on how to achieve both security and individual freedom. An important basis of the OSCE security concept is that international security cannot be achieved without the protection and promotion of individual rights and freedoms. The study first extracts from official OSCE documents a set of principles designed to achieve international security, and then uses the work of the first OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), Max van der Stoel, to test the effectiveness of the principles in practice. From 1993 to 2001, HCNM Max van der Stoel applied OSCE principles in cases involving minority tensions with a high potential for international conflict, and this experience provided the means to assess the practical effects on security when OSCE principles are implemented. The study examined three cases that involved potential conflict: Ukraine and separatism in Crimea; Estonia and tensions regarding the Russian minority; and Macedonia and tensions regarding the Albanian minority. The study found that in each of the three cases, the implementation of OSCE principles reduced national and international tensions involving minority issues, and increased security. The increase in security was seen within each State, between States, and in the region, and reduced the potential for conflict within and between OSCE States. The results were particularly significant in view of the instability, conflicts, and tensions of the post–Cold War period; the OSCE’s ongoing institutionalization during the period; and the limited resources and tools available to the OSCE and the HCNM. The study identified and articulated twenty OSCE security principles that addressed national and international security. The principles addressed the rights and responsibilities of State sovereignty; a comprehensive, cooperative, and common security approach; the prevention of security threats and the peaceful resolution of issues; the protection and promotion of individual rights and freedoms through democracy, the rule of law, and the market economy; rights and responsibilities pertaining to national minorities; the development and advancement of shared values; and processes and mechanisms. The monograph extended the research on the OSCE principles to express an OSCE security concept. The OSCE security concept is a security framework based on the idea that security depends on the development and implementation of principles guiding three areas: how States deal with each other and resolve problems; the protection and promotion of individual rights within States; and the processes and mechanisms to review and advance values, principles, and commitments. The study showed that the implementation of OSCE principles in Ukraine, Estonia, and Macedonia significantly increased security in those three countries and the OSCE region. The study found that the OSCE principles and the OSCE security concept constitute a significant body of thought and practice regarding security, and respect for the individual. The OSCE principles, the OSCE security concept, and the work of the High Commissioner on National Minorities merit further examination, development, and application to national security policy and practice. The application to national security policy and practice is relevant to all security threats and problems.