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Supporting the Development of the OSCE’s Approach to SSG/R

In 2013, DCAF was selected as a strategic partner of Switzerland’s 2014 OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office (CiO). Switzerland identified 10 priorities for its Chairmanship, including ‘Strengthening of Security Sector Governance’. Against this background, one of the flagship projects undertaken by DCAF in support of the CiO was the elaboration of a mapping study on ‘The Role of the OSCE in Security Sector Governance and Reform (SSG/R)’. The mapping study was undertaken on the basis of a mandate of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and with the support of the OSCE Secretary General. The objective was threefold: (i) to achieve an enhanced understanding of the extensive engagement of the OSCE executive structures (Secretariat, Institutions, Field Operations) in SSG/R at both normative and operational levels; (ii) identify its comparative advantages in SSG/R; and (iii) reflect on how to enhance the coherence of OSCE activities in this field. As such, the project was intended to contribute towards the development of the OSCE’s emerging approach to SSG/R.

The empirical foundations of the mapping study are based on extensive desk research as well as field missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, and Tajikistan, drawing on interviews with over 170 interlocutors both at the headquarters level and in the field. The Mapping Study set out a number of recommendations for strengthening the OSCE’s approach to SSG/R, including the creation of an OSCE Group of Friends of SSG/R, the development of a SSG/R focal points network, the elaboration of operational guidance for OSCE staff, and strengthening the engagement with other international organisations on SSG/R. The study was distributed as an official document of the Chairmanship (CIO.GAL/18/14) and was widely disseminated within the organisation.

In June 2014, the OSCE executive structures prepared a formal management response to the study. The management response embraced several of the key recommendations, thus supporting their implementation. This resulted in the establishment of a dedicated SSG/R position within the Secretariat to support the OSCE in developing a coherent approach, the creation of an organisation-wide focal points network on SSG/R, the initiation of a process to develop internal OSCE guidelines on SSG/R to improve the coherence and effectiveness of support, and the joint organisation with the UN of a conference on SSR aimed at experience sharing. Furthermore, the study also led to the creation of a Group of Friends of SSG/R to raise awareness among OSCE participating States.

Since 2014, DCAF has been supporting the OSCE in the follow-up to the mapping study. DCAF supported the organisation of the above mentioned high-level conference on ‘Strengthening OSCE– UN Co-operation on SSR’, which was co-organized by the OSCE and the UN and co-hosted by Slovakia and Switzerland in Vienna on 7 July 2014. The conference resulted among other things in broad agreement to strengthen exchanges at the working-level on SSR between the two organisations in the spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. In October 2014, DCAF also began supporting the OSCE in developing its first set of internal guidelines on SSG/R. The guidelines will aim to provide OSCE executive structures and their staff with a tool to pursue a coherent and co-ordinated approach to supporting nationally-led SSG/R processes. DCAF also continues to support the OSCE in raising awareness on this topic among participating States and has contributed to discussions on SSG/R within the OSCE Security Committee, the Forum for Security Cooperation, and the Group of Friends of SSG/R. 

Mapping Study

  • Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Mapping Study on ‘The Role of the OSCE in Security Sector Governance and Reform’, 2014.
  • Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Executive Summary of the Mapping Study on ‘The Role of the OSCE in Security Sector Governance and Reform’, 2014.

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