This article examines the CSCE response to ethnic conflict in the post-Cold War in terms of the High Commissioner on National Minorities' early warning and conflict prevention capabilities in the broader context of the CSCE's potentialities in this area. First, the special challenges of ethnic strife for conflict prevention are examined. Second, the implementation of the CSCE mechanisms and of the High Commissioner mandate is analyzed in terms of the different levels of CSCE involvement as conflict moves from the early warning to the crisis management phase. The role of the High Commissioner in the Baltic States, and the various functions served by the CSCE missions deployed to different conflict and potential conflict zones are highlighted. The conclusions reflect in preliminary fashion on the (im)possibilities of the CSCE approaches for contributing to regional peace and security in the post-Cold War period, and the ways in which CSCE cooperation with other international institutions and non-governmental actors may enhance its capacity to accomplish its objectives.