NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NATO’s relations with the OSCE

Bilateral meeting with the representatives of the Lithuanian Chairmanship and the OSCE Secretary General. Left to right: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen; Kestutis Jankauskas, Permanent State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania; OSCE Secretary General, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut; and the Lithuanian Ambassador to the OSCE Renatas Norkus.

NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) are working together to build security and promote stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. The two organizations cooperate at both the political and the operational level in areas such as conflict prevention, crisis management and addressing new security threats.

At the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, the Allies underlined the importance of the OSCE as a regional security organization and a forum for dialogue on issues relevant to Euro-Atlantic security, as demonstrated by the Corfu Process. (The Corfu Process was launched at an informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in June 2009, in the wake of the August 2008 crisis in Georgia, which made clear the continued dangers posed to collective security by unresolved conflicts in the Euro-Atlantic area. It aims to restore confidence and take forward dialogue on wider European security.)

Encompassing the political/military, economic/environmental, and human dimensions, the OSCE plays an important role in promoting security and cooperation. The Allies aim to further enhance NATO’s cooperation with the OSCE, both at the political and operational level, in particular in areas such as conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict rehabilitation, and in addressing new security threats.

At a political level, NATO and the OSCE consult each other on regional security issues. Each has also separately developed initiatives aimed at countries in the Mediterranean region.

At the operational level, cooperation in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation has been particularly active in the Western Balkans.
The two organizations complement each other’s efforts on the ground. NATO initiatives to support defence reform, including arms control, mine clearance and the destruction of stockpiles of arms and munitions, dovetail with OSCE efforts aimed at preventing conflict and restoring stability after conflict.

As well as coordinating initiatives on the ground, the NATO and the OSCE regularly exchange views and information on key security-related thematic issues, such as border security, disarmament, arms control (in particular, controlling the spread of small arms and light weapons), energy security and terrorism.

The two organizations also collaborate on environmental issues that are a threat to security, stability and peace through the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC)¹.

Close cooperation between NATO and the OSCE is an important element in the development of an international “Comprehensive Approach” to crisis management, which requires the effective application of both military and civilian means. At Lisbon, the Allies decided to enhance NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach to crisis management as part of the international community’s effort and to improve NATO’s ability to deliver stabilization and reconstruction effects.
The decision – taken by the OSCE at its November 2007 ministerial meeting in Madrid – to engage in Afghanistan, opened a new field for cooperation between the two organizations as part of a comprehensive approach among international actors.

1. The NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme is associated with the ENVSEC, which brings together the OSCE, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • Framework for political dialogue

    Political relations between NATO and the OSCE are governed today by the "Platform for Co-operative Security", which was launched by the OSCE in 1999 at the Istanbul Summit. Via the Platform, the OSCE called upon the international organizations whose members adhere to its principles and commitments, to reinforce their cooperation and to draw upon the resources of the international community in order to restore democracy, prosperity and stability in Europe and beyond.

    Since the Platform was adopted, experts from both NATO and the OSCE have met regularly to discuss operational and political issues of common interest in the areas of conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict reconstruction operations.

    Dialogue also takes place at a higher political level. The Secretary General of NATO is occasionally invited to speak before the OSCE Permanent Council. The OSCE Secretary General has addressed the EAPC Ambassadors for two consecutive years, 2007 and 2008. NATO regularly participates in the annual meetings of the OSCE Ministerial Council as an observer. The North Atlantic Council also invites the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to some of its meetings.

    In recent years, dialogue has expanded to include terrorism and other new security threats, which today constitute a priority area for each of the two Organisations. The OSCE’s "Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the 21st Century", adopted in December 2003, recalls the need – in a constantly changing security environment – to interact with other organisations and institutions taking advantage of the assets and strengths of each.

    Following the Prague Summit in 2002 – when Allies expressed their desire to exploit the complementarity of international efforts aimed at reinforcing stability in the Mediterranean region – NATO and the OSCE began developing closer contacts regarding their respective dialogues with countries in the region.

  • Cooperation in the Balkans

    Practical cooperation between the OSCE and NATO is best exemplified by the complementary missions undertaken by both organizations in the Balkans.
    Within the framework of operations conducted in the Balkans region, representatives from both organisations in the field have met regularly to share information and discuss various aspects of their co-operation.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    In 1996, further to the Dayton Agreements and the adoption of Resolution 1031 of the United Nations Security Council in December 1995, NATO and the OSCE developed a joint action programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) and its successor the Stabilization Force (SFOR) have provided vital support for implementation of the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreements.

    NATO assisted the OSCE in its work in the area of arms control and confidence and security-building measures in the country. By providing security for OSCE personnel and humanitarian assistance, NATO has, inter alia, contributed to the proper conduct of elections under OSCE auspices.


    Between January 1998 and March 1999, the OSCE mounted a Kosovo Verification Mission to monitor compliance on the ground with the Holbrooke-Milosevic cease-fire agreement. NATO conducted a parallel aerial surveillance mission. Following a deterioration in security conditions, the Verification Mission was forced to withdraw in March 1999.

    Since the adoption of Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council in June 1999, a new OSCE Mission to Kosovo was established as part of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). It is tasked, among other things, with supervising the progress of democratization, the creation of institutions, and the protection of human rights. The OSCE Mission to Kosovo, the largest of the  OSCE’s missions, has been maintaining close relations with KFOR, which has a mandate from the United Nations to guarantee a safe environment for the work of the international community.

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2

    NATO has also had close cooperation with the OSCE in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 1. Although the safety and security of international monitors remain primarily the responsibility of the host country, a NATO task force was set up in September 2001 in order to provide additional security. (The European Union officially took over this operation, renamed Concordia, from March 2003 until the mission ended in December 2003.)

    Border security

    NATO and the OSCE also cooperated in the management and securing of borders in the Western Balkans. At a high-level conference held in Ohrid in May 2003, five Balkan countries endorsed a Common Platform developed by the European Union, NATO, the OSCE and the Stability Pact aimed at enhancing border security in the region. Each organization supported those players, involved in the areas within its jurisdiction.

    2. Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.