The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – 40 years after Helsinki

Briefing 05-11-2015

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki final act, signed in 1975. A turning point in the Cold War, the Helsinki process created a forum involving all the actors of European security: European states, the United States, Canada and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The formation of the Conference on the Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) came about during the Détente of 1962-1979. The CSCE transformed the zero-sum game of the Cold War into a positive-sum game between European states and became a forum for discussion between the two superpowers and European countries. The main outcome of the Helsinki process is less the Final Act itself than the original process of negotiations between all the participating states. After the fall of the USSR, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) became an organisation focusing mainly on soft security (elections, peace processes, and protection of minorities). However the instability of the security situation in Europe and its neighbourhood may invigorate the pertinence of what has been known as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) since 1995. The OSCE set up Confidence and Security-building measures (CSBM) that are key to conflict resolution today in Europe (Ukraine, Transnistria and South Caucasus).