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The Ukraine Crisis has negatively impacted the reform process ‘Helsinki+40’ of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (osce). The idea to conclude this process by holding an osce summit in 2015, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, evaporated after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. To overcome the differences with Moscow, it is necessary to compare two radically different narratives on the evolution of the osce after 1990. As long as historical facts are mixed with myths, a common vision of European security between Russia and the West remains a distant dream. In the meantime, ‘common security’ might be more relevant for today’s osce than ‘common values’.

In: Security and Human Rights

In 2014, Switzerland is chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for the second time. The innovative concept of a two-year tandem presidency together with Serbia (2015) will give the OSCE more continuity. Switzerland will focus its activities on mediating in conflicts in the Western Balkans and Southern Caucasus, on modernizing conventional arms control in Europe, and tackling transnational threats such as kidnapping for ransom. For Switzerland, the 2014 Chairmanship of the OSCE offers the opportunity to break out of its self-imposed political isolation in Europe and to make its preventive peace policy and its established good offices more visible internationally.

In: Security and Human Rights

The German chairmanship in 2016 will be an interesting diplomatic experiment for the osce. Germany is the most powerful osce participating state ever at the helm of the organization in its 20-year history. Previously, small states have predominantly held the voluntary osce presidency. This article reviews the performance of osce small states in chairing the organization since 1995. Both the motives for campaigning for the job as well as the factors that have determined whether the 12-month presidency job was done successfully or not, are analyzed. The article concludes with a warning against setting the expectations too high for the 2016 German chairmanship.

In: Security and Human Rights