Reinventing the OSCE for the New Century: The Case for U.S. Leadership

March 26, 2007 // 4:00pm5:15pm

Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), surveyed the role the OSCE played during the Cold War, the challenges it faces in the 21st century, and how U.S. leadership can help it reinvent itself to remain effective. During the Cold War, the OSCE's principal purpose was to prevent conflict by acting as a forum between the east and west. It has since increased its scope to encompass security in a broader sense, which includes areas such as election monitoring, human rights, terrorism, and organized crime. The OSCE's work in these areas, de Brichambaut said, laid the groundwork for the enlargement of NATO and the European Union.

In the 21st century, he said, the OSCE faces multiple and equally significant challenges. These include the consolidation of democracy in Eastern Europe, environmental degradation, trafficking in human beings, and discrimination in member states. The consolidation of democracy in states where there is little to no prospect for joining the NATO or the EU will be particularly challenging, de Brichambaut said. Addressing these challenges will require a sustained engagement by states in the OSCE, among which the United States is well-positioned to lead. It can do so, he said, through political engagement and providing input on how to reinvent the organization to meet these new challenges. De Brichambaut concluded that a successful OSCE would constitute a "nucleus for the global community" – a model for other organizations working to further democracy, the rule of law, and human rights around the world.

Drafted by Mitch Yoshida

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant

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