Doc. 8187

10 September 1998

General policy: Council of Europe and OSCE


Political Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Mr Peter Schieder, Austria, Socialist Group


The OSCE and the Council of Europe share the same principles and objectives: stability and security in Europe, based on democracy and the respect for human rights. However, in achieving their shared objectives, the two organisations have different responsibilities as well as distinct structures, working tools and methods.

While preserving their distinctive features, the two organisations should strengthen their co-operation and co-ordination of their activities.

The governments of the OSCE participating states (which are also members of the Council of Europe), are responsible for ensuring that duplication is avoided, in particular in the field of human rights, and that each organisation is able to use its potential, resources and comparative advantages in the most efficient manner.

I.       Draft recommendation

1. The Assembly stresses that the OSCE and the Council of Europe share the same principles and objectives: stability and security in Europe, based on democracy and respect for human rights.

2. In addition to this close functional and geographical proximity and shared objectives, all member states of the Council of Europe are also members of the OSCE.

3. The Assembly notes that, in achieving their shared objectives, the two organisations have different responsibilities as well as distinct structures, working tools and methods.

4. These differences stem from the mandates entrusted to the two organisations, as well as from their membership, with the Council of Europe being a true pan-European organisation and the OSCE a transatlantic one with membership that also includes central Asian nations.

5. The Assembly recognises the role played by the OSCE in the field of preventive diplomacy and crisis management. Its ability to respond rapidly, as well as the means put at its disposal by the participating countries to ensure a long-term presence in the country in question have been crucial in dealing with several recent regional crises in Europe.

6. The Council of Europe has a unique expertise in the field of human rights, democratic institutions and the rule of law. In recent years it has increasingly contributed to structural conflict prevention and long-term political and institutional post-conflict rehabilitation.

7. The examples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania show that a concerted and complementary effort of the two organisations, acting on equal footing and in co-operation with other institutions of the international community, is most likely to guarantee that resources available will be used in the most efficient manner.

8. The Assembly welcomes the fact that, in carrying out its work in the field, the OSCE relies increasingly on the Council of Europe’s instruments and expertise. Such practice should be encouraged and further developed.

9. The Assembly considers that, while preserving their distinctive features, the two organisations should strengthen their co-operation and the co-ordination of their activities with a view to reinforcing their respective efficiency in the field. Consequently, the Assembly is opposed to proposals to merge the two organisations or their parliamentary assemblies, whose statutory roles, membership, structures and working methods reflect the differences existing between the Council of Europe and the OSCE as a whole.

10. The Assembly also considers that, in the light of their respective comparative advantages and specific accumulated expertise, a clearer repartition of tasks between the Council of Europe and the OSCE is necessary to avoid duplication. This is particularly important in the field of human rights, where duplicated efforts not only represent a waste of resources, but may also undermine the efficiency of existing human rights standards and mechanisms for their legal protection.

11. The Assembly stresses the particular responsibility of the governments of the OSCE participating states (which are also members of the Council of Europe) to ensure, through better co-ordination at both national and international level, that each organisation is able to use its potential, resources and comparative advantages in the most efficient manner.

12. The Assembly welcomes the existing contacts between the two organisations at all levels, and in particular the "2+2" meetings between the Chairmen-in-office and the Secretaries General of the two organisations. It considers that these meetings should be complemented by regular meetings at high official level, in order to better prepare the ministerial meetings and ensure their follow-up. The Assembly also reiterates its demand to be associated, together with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, in these meetings.

13. Consequently, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i. call on member states to improve co-ordination and exchange of information on Council of Europe and OSCE activities, at both national and international level, with a view to ensuring an optimal distribution of tasks and a more efficient allocation of resources between the two organisations;

ii. implement the proposals on future relations between the Council of Europe and the OSCE put forward at the Seminar held in The Hague on 5 June 1998 and in particular:

a. establish regular contacts between the two organisations at high official level to prepare the "2+2" meetings and ensure their follow-up,

b. propose that the Presidents of the two parliamentary assemblies be invited to these "2+2" meetings;

c. enable the OSCE to make a better and more efficient use of the Council of Europe’s unique expertise in the field of human rights, democratic institutions and the rule of law, in particular through greater participation of Council of Europe experts in OSCE field missions;

d. establish a mechanism for the pooling and exchange of information, communication in emergency situations, co-operation in planning and action.

iii. explore, on the basis of reciprocity, the possibility of a continuous presence of the Council of Europe at OSCE meetings, through the Chairman-in-office of the Committee of Ministers.

14. The Assembly resolves to further develop co-operation with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, notably with regard to the observation of elections.

II.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur

A.       Introduction

1. In recent years the need for greater cooperation between international organisations has become increasignly evident. Both the OSCE and the Council of Europe strive for a democratic and secure Europe, but they differ in terms of mandates, membership and working methods. While the OSCE is traditionally a security organisation (early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation, the Council of Europe’s statutory principles are democracy, the Rule of law and human rights.

2. The fact that the two organisations to some extent, overlap, if not in their methods, certainly in their objectives, principles and largerly membership, increased the need for the clarification of their respective roles and the definition of the terms for future co-operation.

B.       CSCE / OSCE: origins and development

3. The origins of the OSCE can be traced back to the early 1950s, with a proposal from the then USSR, backed by its allies, to launch an all-European security conference. In 1972, 33 European States, Canada and the United States, agreed to enter into talks and consultations concerning the preparations for such a conference to be held in Helsinki. After two and a half years of negotiations, Heads of State and Government of these 35 countries signed the Helsinki Final Act on 1 August 1975. The Final Act consists of basic principles in accordance with which the States should behave towards their citizens and towards each other. The Act is divided into three main areas of co-operation, or ‘baskets’, which lay the basis for further development of the CSCE Process:

Ÿ Questions relating to European Security

Ÿ Co-operation in the fields of economics, technology and environment

Ÿ Co-operation in humanitarian and other fields

4. The Act established a basis for the creation of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) by calling for follow-up meetings to set norms and commitments and to review their implementation. Such follow-up meetings were held in Belgrade (1977-1978), Madrid (1980-1983) and Vienna (1986-1989). Particularly significant results were achieved at the Vienna meeting. After many negotiations, the participating states agreed upon commitments concerning human rights, confidence-building measures and disarmament in respect to conventional weapons.

5. From 1975 to 1990 the CSCE remained a continuous diplomatic conference; no permanent structures or long-term schedules were created. During this period, the strength of the conference was the attention paid to human rights in relation to general security and co-operation. The political changes in Europe and the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s resulted in a decision of 35 states to convene a summit in Paris. The Paris Summit of November 1990 was the first CSCE summit held since Helsinki.

6. During this meeting the states adopted the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, which set the CSCE on a new course. In the Charter, the CSCE was called upon to build and strengthen democracy as the only acceptable system of government, and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Charter marked the beginning of institutionalisation: two political bodies were set up (the Council Ministers (later Ministerial Council) and the Permanent Committee (later the Permanent Council) and the standing institutions were established (Conflict Prevention Centre in Vienna, the Secretariat in Prague and the Office for Free Elections (later Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights). Participants in the Conference also agreed to set up a CSCE Parliamentary Assembly made up of parliamentary delegations from all CSCE states.

7. The process of institutionalisation continued at a follow-up meeting in Helsinki in 1992. New mechanisms were created in order to strengthen security and stability in Europe by means of peacekeeping missions. In 1993, a Permanent CSCE Secretariat was established in Vienna and its first Secretary General was appointed by the Council of Ministers.

8. The Budapest Summit of 1994 was marked by the change of the name to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It was declared that the OSCE was to be the primary instrument for early warning, conflict and crisis management in its region. During the Budapest Summit the possibility for the OSCE to implement peacekeeping missions was consolidated by the decision to send a peacekeeping unit to Nagorno-Karabakh (even though this decision has not yet materialised). One of the documents adopted during this Summit was the "Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security". This Code contained the principles guiding the role of armed forces in democratic societies.

9. In December 1996 Heads of State and Government of the participating States met at the Lisbon Summit, and adopted the ‘Declaration on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the 21st Century’. This Declaration stated that the OSCE had a central role to play in achieving common security and described the organisation as being a comprehensive body for consultation, decision-making and co-operation in its region. Another important document adopted at Lisbon was the ‘Framework for Arms Control’, aiming at establishing a web of interlocking and mutually reinforcing arms control commitments and obligations. At this meeting it was agreed that the OSCE would intensify relations with other like-minded organisations in order to develop a synergy among international organisations.

10. As a follow up to the Lisbon Summit, the OSCE is currently considering a security model for participating States, which would incorporate the military, economic and humanitarian dimensions. The OSCE has also maintained its role as a forum for consultation, negotiation and dialogue among the member states and, moreover, of late, it expanded its action into the field of economics and environmental protection.

11. All states have equal status and decisions are in principle, taken by consensus. The commitments of the OSCE, with few exceptions, are politically, not legally binding. They imply, with few exceptions, no direct obligations under international law. Consequently the organisation has no legal sanctions at its disposal. Political measures, however, can be taken.

C.       OSCE structures and institutions

12. The Chairman-in-Office (CiO) of the OSCE has overall responsibility for executive action. The term of this position lasts one year. The Chairmanship is currently held by Poland and in 1999 it will pass on to Norway. The CiO's predecessor and successor assist the CiO in his/her work, together they form the Troika. He or she can also appoint personal representatives on a case-by-case basis to assist in dealing with crises or conflicts.

13. The Ministerial Council (formerly the CSCE Council) is the central decision-making and governing body. This political body considers issues relevant to the OSCE and takes important decisions. It consists of the Foreign Ministers of the OSCE participating States. The ministers meet at least once a year in the State exercising the Chairmanship.

14. The Permanent Council is a standing body for political consultations and decision making. It meets weekly at the level of Ambassadors Permanent Representatives of the participating states.

15. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR, the former Office for Free Elections) is the main institution in human dimension. This specialised body is responsible for furthering human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Office organises meetings at which it monitors the implementation of OSCE commitments concerning the human dimension. It gives advice on election laws, as well as monitors elections and provides training and expertise on legal and constitutional matters. An important task of the Office is maintaining contacts with non-governmental organisations and helping build a civic society.

16. The High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) created in 1992, was the OSCE's response to the increasing number of ethnic conflicts in Europe. His mandate stipulates that the High Commissioner “will provide early warning and, as appropriate, early action at the earliest stage possible to tensions involving minority issues”. His function is to respond impartially to ethnic tensions within the OSCE region which could develop into a conflict and therefore endanger peace and stability. The High Commissioner determines on the basis of general guidelines whether involvement in a situation is desirable and wise. Operating independently from other OSCE bodies provides him the freedom of initiative. However, the effectiveness of the actions of the HCNM is without any doubt dependent on the political support of member states and contacts within the OSCE bodies. The mandate empowers him to conduct missions to problem areas and to engage in preventive diplomacy. The High Commissioner may in the course of his work decide to bring a report with recommendations before the government in question. These reports and responses to them from governments concerned, once declassified, are brought to the attention of the Permanent Council. When the means of the High Commissioner become insufficient to cope with the increasing extent of the tensions, he is responsible for alerting the OSCE bodies.

17. In November 1997 the OSCE created the position of Representative on Freedom of the Media under the aegis of the Permanent Council. The OSCE considers freedom of expression in general and the existence of an independent and pluralistic media in particular as essential elements of an open and democratic society. The Representative’s function is to observe relevant media development, to strengthen the implementation of OSCE principles and commitments with respect to freedom of expression and media and to improve the effectiveness of concerted action by participating States based on their common values. The Representative will focus on early response to serious non-compliance with the OSCE principles and commitments mentioned above. In case of an allegation of a serious violation of one of the principles the Representative will try to resolve the issue by means of consultation with, and assistance to the relevant state.

18. The Secretariat is under the direction of a Secretary General who is appointed for a period of three years. The SG is the chief administrative officer of the OSCE and supports the Chairman-in-Office in the activities aimed at achieving the goals of the OSCE. Further co-operation is carried out in relation to the organisation of OSCE meetings and the implementation of OSCE decisions. As the OSCE’s chief administrative officer, the Secretary General also manages the structures, operations and administration of the OSCE.

19. The OSCE has since the early 1990s the possibility to deploy two different missions, short-term, rapporteur or expert missions and missions of long duration. The latter concern OSCE involvement in conflict prevention and crisis management activities in the long term. The creation of field missions was a reaction to the growth of regional conflicts after the end of the Cold War. In 1997 there was a total of nine field missions in the Balkans, Baltic, Caucasus and in Central Asia. The mandates, composition and operation of the missions may differ in order to adjust to the situation and make an appropriate settlement of conflicts possible. The tasks of diplomats, civilian experts and military personnel who staff the missions are generally to help settle conflicts by a peaceful means. Their mandate calls for stimulation of dialogue between concerned parties, gathering information on the incidents and providing advice and counsel especially in matters related to human rights. Missions co-operate with international organisations that are active in these areas, in particular the Council of Europe and the UN.

D.       OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

20. As already mentioned in paragraph 6, in 1990, the section on ‘New Structures and Institutions of the CSCE Process’ of the Paris Charter of Paris stated that the parliamentarians could play an important role in the CSCE and called for greater parliamentary involvement in its work. Parliamentary representatives from CSCE participating States met in Madrid in April 1991 and agreed to set up an OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The Madrid Declaration determines the basic rules of procedure, working methods and mandate. The Parliamentary Assembly is composed of 315 parliamentarians, who are representatives of the national parliaments of all OSCE participating States. The decision-making principle in the OSCE PA, unlike the inter-governmental sector, is majority, rather than consensus.

21. During annual sessions the parliamentarians assess the implementation of the objectives of the OSCE and discuss subjects addressed during meetings of the Ministerial Council and summits. They also develop mechanisms for prevention and solution of conflicts and support the strengthening and consolidation of democratic institutions in the OSCE member states. In this framework the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has the possibility to send delegations on missions and to monitor elections.

22. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has three General Committees, which are established along the lines of the three main baskets of the Helsinki Final Act. These are: the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security, the General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment and the General Committee on Democracy,

Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. Each committee is responsible for preparing a report and a draft resolution for presentation at the Annual Session.

23. Decisions and resolutions adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly are transmitted to the OSCE Ministerial Council, the Chairman-in-Office and the national parliaments. The adoption of resolutions on problematic issues is mainly possible because the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly takes its decisions by majority vote and not by consensus.

E.       Areas of common concern

24. The OSCE is traditionally a security organisation with an open-ended mandate based on the comprehensive concept of security, but the human dimension is becoming an ever more substantial part of the concept. On the other hand, within the Council of Europe, human rights organisation "par excellence", contribution to cohesion, stability and security in Europe is being intensified, as a follow up to the Second Council of Europe Summit of October 1997.

25. In these areas of common concern, co-operation is necessary. The two organisations should make use of their comparative advantage, the OSCE of its operational capabilities and the Council of Europe of its expertise in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

26. In this context, one should stress the primary responsibility of the government represented in both organisations to ensure proper co-ordination of activities and maximally efficient use of resources. It is they who decide which organisation would be best suited to act in a specific situation and in which manner. They also them who decide what means the organisation chosen to act should have at its disposal. Experience shows that a better flow of information and co-ordination within, as well as between ministries of foreign affairs, could have an immediate and substantial positive impact on the respective performance of both organisations.

a.       security, conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation

27. The OSCE has a prime responsibility and role in preventive diplomacy, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. It has developed a number of early warning mechanisms, such as the High Commissioner on National Minorities and field missions, and it has a rapid-response capability, as it is in a position to mobilise all the necessary means to respond to a conflict very quickly.

28. The Council of Europe has a distinctive role in member and applicant states when democracy and human rights are at stake, though it is not by its nature specifically designed to deal with crises and conflicts. The Council’s action is based on the idea of democratic security, a concept forged at its Summit held in Vienna in 1993. Its particular contribution to stability and security lies in the implementation and promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. To that end, a system of collective enforcement through monitoring has been established to ensure the respect of these principles.

29. The Council of Europe has a longstanding experience in co-operating with the OSCE on the ground, involving the Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretariat on the Council of Europe’s side, and mainly the OSCE Field Missions and the ODIHR on the OSCE's side.

30. The OSCE has great experience in long-term presence in the field, as its missions tasks are varied and are generally aimed at the creation of a framework appropriate to the settlement of conflicts, together with all the parties involved. Except for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, the Council of Europe’s interventions in the field concern specific tasks and each activity is limited in time.

b.       democracy building/election monitoring

31. Election monitoring represents another field of co-operation, involving the Parliamentary Assembly and, in the case of local elections, the CLRAE on the Council of Europe’s side, and the ODIHR and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on the OSCE's side.

32. For the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, election monitoring is part of its political monitoring process. In particular, it is an important element of the examination of requests for membership and special guest-status. The Council of Europe Secretariat also provides, if requested, assistance for improving electoral legislation.

33. The foundation for election monitoring by the OSCE was laid in the Copenhagen meeting on Human dimension of 1990. Paragraph 8 of the Copenhagen Document stated that “the presence of observers, both foreign and domestic, can enhance the electoral process, and that they (participating States) should therefore invite observers from any other participating state or relevant organisation to observe the course of their election proceedings”.

34. The ODIHR considers a comprehensive overview of the entire electoral process as essential. Special attention is therefore given to long-term observation, including the process of nominating candidates, the course of the election campaigns and the conditions of access to the media. Co-operation between the ODIHR and the Council of Europe has been developed, which has resulted in frequent contacts at all levels.

35. At the level of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, pragmatic co-operation in elections monitoring with the ODIHR exists, but now some members of the Assembly feel that a memorandum of understanding could contribute to better co-ordination on the spot. The rapporteur hopes discussions in the Bureau of the Assembly will lead to such a memorandum.

c.       promotion and monitoring of respect for human rights

36. Though both organisations are involved in the promotion and monitoring of respect for human rights, there is a fundamental difference in the way they pursue this objective.

37. The OSCE Human Dimension is based on a political protection of human rights. When violations occur, political pressure is exerted to solve the situation. Compared to the Council of Europe’s statutory mandate concerning human rights and its statutory structure, the ODIHR and its actual human dimension mandate is rather limited in scope and outreach. Moreover, as a legal "guardian" of human rights, the Council of Europe sets and enforces standards that are generally more demanding than these of the OSCE and other international organisations.

38. The Council of Europe has established a unique system of legal protection with an individual right of complaint. The European Court for Human Rights gives binding judgements and the member states are required to offer effective judicial remedies to individuals.

39. In addition, the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities carry out political monitoring of compliance with these obligations and commitments. At the Parliamentary Assembly level, the Committee on the honouring of obligations and commitments by member states of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) has been established and has already proved its value.

F.       Proposals for closer co-operation

40. The improvement of co-operation with the OSCE has always been a priority for the Parliamentary Assembly. In its Recommendation 1324 (1997) on the Parliamentary Assembly contribution to the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, the Assembly recommended to the Committee of Ministers “to institutionalise the framework of closer co-operation with the OSCE”. The Final Declaration of this Summit welcomes the development of the co-operation with the OSCE, which should intensify in the future.

41. Recent debates and meetings show that a consensus is rising on how to organise and develop co-operation between the OSCE and the Council of Europe. It is clear that neither a merger nor a strict division of labour is to be pursued. Each organisation's specific role and membership should be respected, and their co-operation be based on an equal partnership should make use of the comparative advantages of each side.

a.       established mechanisms

42. Between the two organisations:

- Annual 2+2 Meetings, bringing together the Chairmen in Office and the Secretaries-General;

- bi-annual programming meetings between the Council of Europe Secretariat and the ODIHR ;

- reciprocal participation in Summits and Ministerial Meetings of the two organisations;

- participation in exchanges of views by the respective Secretaries-General in the OSCE Permanent Council and the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers at Deputies’ level;

- joint seminars on issues of common interest with the ODIHR;

- ODIHR participation at the Venice Commission’s meetings;

- OSCE participation in a number of intergovernmental committees of the Council of Europe;

- Council of Europe participation in OSCE Missions, seminars and in the implementation of concrete projects;

- annual High-level Tripartite Meetings between the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN in Geneva, supplemented by Target Oriented Meetings at the operational level on specific regions;

43. Within the Council of Europe, the Ministers’ Deputies Rapporteur Group on relations with the OSCE deals regularly with topical questions in the relation between both organisations and gives political guidance. A Council of Europe administrator responsible for liasing with the OSCE regularly attends meetings of the OSCE Permanent Council.

b.       co-operation at parliamentary level

44. In its Resolution 993 (1993) on the general policy of the Council of Europe, the Assembly stated that it would continue to take a close interest in the establishment of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CSCE to ensure that the work of both assemblies remain complementary and to avoid any unnecessary duplication.

45. It should be noted that the two Assemblies differ substantially with regard to their statutory roles within their respective organisations, membership, structure, frequency of meetings and working methods. These differences have an impact on the relations between the two bodies. They also represent an insurmountable obstacle to plans for the merging of the two bodies.

46. As regards the current relationship between the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and its counterpart of the Council of Europe, it must first of all be noted that a number of Parliamentarians are members of both Assemblies. In this respect, it would seem advisable to encourage national delegations to ensure, to the extent possible, that the same persons represent their respective parliaments in the two Assemblies. This would facilitate better co-ordination and operational consistency.

47. Co-operation between the two parliamentary institutions already takes place at several levels:

- within the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe an Ad Hoc Committee of the Chairmen of Political Groups deals with OSCE matters ;

- the Presidents of the Assemblies have on several occasions addressed the other Assembly, and also the Chairmen-in-Office of the OSCE have addressed the Assembly of the Council of Europe ;

- the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has observer status with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly ;

- ad hoc practical co-operation between election observers occurs, such as the formation of a tri-parliamentary mission comprising the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament, which gave a joint assessment of the June 1997 Parliamentary elections in Albania.

48. As far as developing consultation mechanisms is concerned, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should seek to become party to the regular Tripartite (CoE-OSCE-UN) and “2+2” meetings (CoE-OSCE Chairmanships and Secretaries-General).

49. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should also seek to be invited to the ODIHR human dimension implementation meetings and relevant seminars, and to the OSCE review meetings.

50. As already mentioned above, a memorandum of understanding is being discussed between the CoE Parliamentary Assembly and the ODIHR, as it is felt that such an agreement could contribute to meet the common objective of a coherent assessment by international election observers.

c.       the Hague Seminar proposals

51. In his speech at the Second Summit of the Council of Europe in October 1997, the Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok pleaded in favour of improved co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE. After two “orientation” seminars, the Dutch Foreign Minister proposed “an alliance between the Council of Europe and the OSCE for Human rights and Democracy” at the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 26 March 1998. The details of this concept were discussed at a seminar held in The Hague on 5 June 1998.

52. The debate during this Seminar started with the recognition that each organisation has its own history, traditions and responsibilities, but they have in common the stability and security in Europe, on the basis of human rights and democracy. It was agreed that as long as the overlap is co-ordinated and one organisation can enforce the other one’s activity, this could be to the advantage of both organisations. A merger between the two organisations was not recommended and neither was a strict division of labour. However, as it was pointed out by the President of the Assembly in her speech at the seminar, in order to be more efficient, a better repartition of work should be drawn up. The specificity of each organisation should be safeguarded: as far as the Council of Europe was concerned its role was to safeguard human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

53. Co-operation should be based on equality and respect for each other’s different backgrounds, procedures and comparative advantages (i.e. the OSCE’s operational capabilities and the Council of Europe’s expertise in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law).

54. The following suggestions were made with a view of enhancing co-operation and the rapporteur considers that they represent a solid basis for future relations between the two organisations:

- setting up a joint working group on specific subjects of common interest, additional target-oriented meetings, regular meetings at the high officials level to prepare the 2+2 meetings;

- setting up a joint “Committee of programmes” to co-ordinate activities in the field of democratisation;

- setting-up a sub-group of the OSCE Permanent Council to periodically review the relations with the Council of Europe;

- exchange information on each organisation’s procedures and activities, creation of a joint databank and setting up of special communication arrangements for crisis situations;

- joint, planning training, activities and missions;

- more active Council of Europe involvement of Council of Europe experts in the field activities of the OSCE, through secondment of personnel on permanent or semi-permanent basis;

- establish modalities of co-operation in the context of election observation with a view to presenting coherent judgements;

- setting up a general framework agreement for co-operation and specific memoranda of understanding.

G.       Conclusions

55. While the OSCE and the Council of Europe share the same principles and objectives, as well as the common geographical area of action, their responsibilities, structures, working tools and methods differ substantially.

56. These differences, resulting from their respective mandates and membership, are also reflected in the features of the parliamentary assemblies of the two organisations. These also correspond to different requirements of the national parliaments. Whereas, in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its committees, an ongoing presence is required (depending on their function, members attend 8 to 10 meetings a year) and the representatives are chosen accordingly, in the OSCE Assembly, members (apart from those with senior positions) must attend only one meeting a year, which is advantageous not only for parliamentarians who are particularly active at national level but also for delegations which have to make long journeys, even including transatlantic travel, to attend. The development of the European institutions in the years ahead and the resulting challenges would tend rather to suggest overlaps between the work of the Council of Europe and the enlargement and transitional institutions for European Union applicants on the one hand and between the work of the OSCE and its Parliamentary Assembly and the Partnership for Peace and possible parliamentary co-operation in that area on the other. This all speaks against the merger either of the organisations as a whole or of their parliamentary bodies.

57. While the OSCE has a primary role in crisis management and preventive diplomacy, the two organisations provide complementary contributions to structural conflict prevention and long-term political and institutional post-conflict rehabilitation.

58. The recent examples of concerted effort of both organisations speak in favour of further strengthening of co-operation and co-ordination of activities. The Seminar on the relations between the OSCE and the Council of Europe, held in The Hague on 5 June 1998, provided a number of useful proposals to this effect.

59. Close co-operation should be supplemented by a clearer repartition of tasks between the two organisations, in order to preserve the distinctive features of the two organisations and to achieve maximum efficiency in the use of resources available.

60. The governments of the OSCE participating countries that are also members of the Council of Europe bear a special responsibility to ensure that each organisation is able to use its potential, resources and comparative advantages in the most efficient manner. They should refrain from making proposals for new OSCE activities or institutions which overlap with those existing in the Council of Europe. A continuous presence of the Council of Europe at OSCE meetings, through the Chairman-in-Office of the Committee of Ministers, could help to improve co-operation between the two organisations and avoid overlapping.

61. Of course such a presence implies reciprocity. The Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE should also be represented at Council of Europe meetings. Should a situation occur where Chairman-in-office of the OSCE is exercised by a non-member State of the Council of Europe, such a representation could be ensured by successor/predecessor according the Troika concept.

62. A similarity between the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly no doubt also lies in the desire of their members to extend their rights and those of their assemblies in relation to the organisations as a whole. The extension of the powers of the European Parliament within the European Union has set new standards in Europe. In the light of this development, a process aimed at strengthening the parliamentary dimension must also take place in the other European institutions. The aspects of this which some governments still regard as unwelcome could in future prove to be a significant factor in ensuring the successful survival of the institutions.


Organigram of the OSCE structures and institutions

Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee

Reference to committee: general policy report (Rule 16, paragraph 3 of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly.

Draft recommendation: adopted unanimously by the committee on 3 September 1998.

Members of the committee: Mr Bársony (Chairperson), Mr van der Linden, Mrs Ojuland, (Vice-Chairpersons), MM Antretter, Atkinson, Mrs Belohorská, MM Bergqvist, Bernardini, Björck, Bloetzer, Chircop, Chornovil, Daly, Davis, Dokle, Domljan, Gjellerod, Gül, Hadjidemetriou, Hornhues, Mrs Iotti, MM. Irmer, Iwínski, Kalus, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Krzaklewski, Kuzmickas, Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM Lopez Henares (Alternate: Puche), Lupu, van der Maelen, Maginas, Martinez, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Mota Amaral, Mühlemann, Mutman, Nallet (Alternate: Baumel, Vice-Président), Nedelciuc, Nemeth, Oliynik, Pahor, Palmitjavila Ribo, Popovski, Prusak, Mrs Ragnarsdóttir, Mrs Roudy (Alternate: Mr Lemoine), MM Schieder, Schwimmer (Alternate: Mautner Markhof), Séguin, Selva, Shokhin, Sinka, Mrs Smith, Mrs Stanoiu (Alternate: Mr Badulescu), Mrs Štepova, MM. Thoresen, Toshev, Urbain, Volcic, Vrettos, Woltjer, Ziuganov.

N.B. The names of those members who took part in the vote are printed in italics.

Secretaries to the committee: MM Kleijssen, Gruden, Sich