The OSCE mission was established on the invitation of the government of Georgia and with the consent of the leaders of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. One would therefore conclude that there would have been a sound basis for a political solution of the situation. The reality has proved otherwise. The JCC set up to serve as a forum for negotiations, became part of the problem and compromised rather than enabled the OSCE to fulfill its mediating role. The OSCE's security enhancing role in the break away regions was curtailed due to a lack of personnel. As a regional organization lacking political and economic leverage the OSCE was not up to the challenges of this complex situation. The article highlights the constraints of the OSCE in carrying out its mandate: no legal basis, consensus, increasing opposition from the part of CIS countries.