Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2013

An Opportunity for Ambition: Ukraine's OSCE Chairmanship

Matthew Rojansky

January 2013

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


After almost three years of discussion and debate, delegates from 35 states, representing both sides of the Cold War divide and three continents, reached agreement in the summer of 1975 on a set of basic principles meant to enhance security in Europe and the surrounding neighborhood. Their accomplishment, known as the Helsinki Final Act, remains the political foundation for cooperation on security among states of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions. Today, the successor to the Helsinki conference is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with 57 participating states. In 2013, Ukraine will take over the organization’s chairmanship. Carrying on the legacy of the Helsinki Final Act, the OSCE embodies a set of basic security principles grouped in three general “dimensions.” The first, politico-military security, guarantees the “sovereign equality” and “territorial integrity” of participating states while promoting the “peaceful settlement of disputes.” The second dimension promotes cooperation in the fields of economics, science and technology, and the environment on the basis of common projects and standards intended to reduce the likelihood of disputes driven by economic factors. The third and final dimension, human security, recognizes a set of basic rights to be enjoyed by citizens of regional states, including the right to travel, maintain family contacts, access education in native languages, freely access and disseminate information, and conduct cultural and commercial exchanges.