Relations with the OSCE

  • Last updated: 07 Apr. 2016 17:30

NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) work together to build security and promote stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. They cooperate at both the political and the operational level in areas such as conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict rehabilitation, crisis management, as well as in addressing new security challenges.

NATO Secretary General Jens  Stoltenberg meets with the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Lamberto Zannier

At the political level, NATO and the OSCE consult each other on thematic and regional security issues of common interest such as border security and disarmament. At the operational level, cooperation in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation has been particularly active in the Western Balkans.

The two organisations 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. 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 the Lisbon Summit in 2010, 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 stabilisation and reconstruction effects.

At recent summits, the Allies have reiterated the importance of the OSCE’s role in regional security and as a forum for dialogue on issues relevant to Euro-Atlantic 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.

  • Political dialogue

    NATO and the OSCE regularly exchange views and information on key security-related 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 organisations also cooperate on environmental issues that are a threat to security, stability and peace through the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC)¹.

    In recent years, dialogue has expanded to include terrorism and other emerging security challenges, which are among the priority areas for each of the two organisations. Following the Prague Summit in 2002 – when NATO 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.

    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 NATO Istanbul Summit. Via the Platform, the OSCE called upon the international organisations 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. Moreover, in December 2003, the OSCE’s "Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the 21st Century" 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 other.

    Dialogue also takes place at a higher political level. The NATO Secretary General is occasionally invited to speak at the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference. The OSCE Secretary General addressed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Ambassadors meeting in 2007 and 2008. NATO regularly participates in the annual meetings of the OSCE Ministerial Council, as an observer. The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office is also invited to some of the meetings held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

    1. The NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme is associated with the ENVSEC, which brings together NATO, the OSCE, the Regional Environmental Center, the United Nations (UN) Development Programme, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the UN Environment Programme.
  • Cooperation in the Western Balkans

    Practical cooperation between the OSCE and NATO is best exemplified by the complementary missions that have been undertaken by both organisations in the Western Balkans.

    Within the framework of operations conducted in the Western Balkans region, representatives from both organisations in the field have met regularly to share information and discuss various aspects of their cooperation.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    In 1996, further to the Dayton Agreements and the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1031 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 Stabilisation 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 UNSCR 1244 in June 1999, a new OSCE Mission in 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 democratisation, building of institutions, and the protection of human rights. The mission - the largest of the OSCE’s field operations - has been maintaining close relations with the Kosovo Force (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 Macedonia2

    NATO also had close cooperation with the OSCE in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia2, where a NATO Task Force provided additional security for international monitors in early 2000. Today, the NATO Liaison Office in Skopje continues to exchange information with the OSCE Mission to Skopje.

    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 Western Balkans countries endorsed a Common Platform developed by the European Union, NATO, the OSCE and the then Stability Pact for South-East Europe aimed at enhancing border security in the region. Each organisation supported those players, involved in the areas within its jurisdiction. Cooperation in the area of border security has now been extended to Central Asia, where the two organisations carry out complementary projects and programmes.

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