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Photo: Stephanie Liechtenstein. Refugees collecting clothes at Vienna’s train station

The OSCE and human security

Gerd Oberleitner
Journal01 March 2008

Until recently the OSCE has largely been disconnected from the emerging practice of and the global debate over the concept of human security. Although the organisation has occasionally referred to human security in its documents, the consequences of the emergence, development and application of the concept over the past decade for the OSCE have not been explored. Much of the essence of the concept of human security – that security is comprehensive, cooperative and ultimately geared towards protecting and empowering the individual; is best achieved in trans-regional networks and in cooperation with civil society actors; should be dealt with in multilateral settings which also serve small and middlepower states; puts practice over theory; and seeks to create a visionary and geographic space in which security is considered a common good and shared value – is part of the OSCE’s self-perception. Still, there seems to be added value in rooting the organisation’s work more firmly in human security in order to connect the three dimensions of security in the OSCE, emphasize their integral and indivisible character and focus on the ultimate aim of the OSCE to increase individual security in the region.

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