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DCAF works with the OSCE to strengthen the coherence and effectiveness of its approach to Security Sector Reform (SSR) support. DCAF also cooperates with the OSCE Secretariat, institutions and field operations on Security Sector Governance (SSG) programming across a number of domains, particularly on ombuds institutions and human rights of armed forces personnel, as well as the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security.

Every year, DCAF also supports the OSCE Focus Conference, which was developed as a flexible instrument for reflection and analysis of the OSCE. 

Photo:  OSCE/Mikhail Evstafiev
In the area of SSG/R, the OSCE has developed a strategic partnership with DCAF, which has made a vital contribution to our progress in this field.
First-ever OSCE Secretary General Report on SSG/R (2019)



DCAF supports the OSCE in the development of a coherent and coordinated approach to SSG/R support across the organization. 

At the policy level, we regularly provide advice and conceptual support to high-level conferences. More recently, the OSCE Secretary General requested DCAF to support their staff in the development of the first-ever Report on SSG/R, which was launched in March 2019.  In addition, since 2014, we have regularly supported the OSCE Chairs in Office. This was particularly relevant during the Swiss (2014), the Austrian (2017), and the Slovak (2019) Chairmanships. 

In terms of guidance, DCAF supported the OSCE to develop a first set of OSCE Guidelines on SSG/R in 2016 and has since regularly reviewed their implementation at the OSCE annual workshop for SSG/R focal points. 

This project is funded primarily by DCAF Core funding. However, generous contributions have been received by some of the OSCE Chairs in Office, as well as by the Swiss FDFA programme on Multilateral Organizations & SSR. 

Publications and further reading



DCAF supports the OSCE and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), as well as its participating States, to enhance its support for the protection of human rights of armed forces personnel. For instance, DCAF and OSCE/ODIHR published the Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel, which for the first time provided a comparative study on the rights afforded to armed forces personnel in the OSCE’s 57 participating States. The Handbook has been used extensively by participating states to establish minimum standards of rights protections of armed forces personnel.

In particular, DCAF focuses its support in assisting OSCE participating States to strengthen human rights protections by supporting the development of ombuds institutions for the armed forces. These bodies are mandated to receive and investigate complaints pertaining to human rights abuses. In the past, we have organized a variety of activities in cooperation with OSCE/ODIHR to promote these institutions. In 2015, DCAF and OSCE/ODIHR published a mapping study on ombuds institutions to provide insights into the existing oversight bodies in OSCE participating States. Building on this, we have published a compilation of case studies of various forms of ombuds institutions within the OSCE, as well as  organized a variety of workshops, trainings, and conferences in cooperation with OSCE/ODIHR to enhance the capacities of ombuds institutions .

This project was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the German Federal Foreign Office

Publications and further reading


DCAF supports the OSCE in the provision of research, conceptual support, and expert advice relating to the Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security. 

In 2019, the Swiss Chairmanship 2019/I of the Forum for Security Co-operation commissioned DCAF to develop a report on the OSCE Code of Conduct. The report presents the findings of research on intra-State elements of the information exchange on the Code of Conduct, which analysed reporting from 2018 with the aim of developing an evidence-based understanding of the scope of responses provided by OSCE participating States. This report aims to contribute towards efforts to ensure that the information exchange is utilized to its fullest extent as a confidence-building measure within the existing framework. For this purpose, the study examines four questions selected from the 2009 Questionnaire. This project was funded by the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre.

In 2022, DCAF was mandated to conduct further research on the OSCE Code of Conduct, focusing specifically on its implementation during COVID-19. The research project focuses on the role of armed forces in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in OSCE participating States. The study is based on the annual reports submitted by participating States pursuant to the OSCE CoC information exchange between 2020-2022, with special attention given to the role of armed forces, the role of parliament in monitoring the conduct of the armed forces, any special measures taken to address the pandemic, as well as the legal framework governing emergency powers. This project was jointly funded and mandated by the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport and the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation.

Publications and further reading




Since 2011, we have organized the annual OSCE Focus conference series in Geneva. The conference series has established itself as an important forum for representatives of the OSCE Chairs, executive structures, and participating States, as well as experts from the think tank community to review the role of the OSCE and to discuss key themes for the upcoming year.

Conducted under Chatham House Rules, the two-day retreat-style meetings provide an opportunity to reflect critically on the fundamental direction of the OSCE, sound out new ideas, and take a fresh look at ‘old’ problems. They also prove to be extremely useful in ‘passing the baton’ to the next OSCE Chair.

The conference series are hosted by the OSCE Troika, together with Switzerland, and in cooperation with DCAF and CSS/ETHZ.
This project is funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs – EDA, and designated members of the OSCE Troika. 

Publications and further reading 







For the OSCE’s approach to SSG/R:

Will McDermott, Principal Programme Manager, Policy and Research Division (

Taynja Abdel Baghy, Project Officer, Policy and Research Division (