Civil Society in the OSCE: From Human Rights
Advocacy to Peacebuilding
OSCE Yearbook 2015
Place of publication
978-3-8487-2982-1 ; 978-3-8452-7365-5
Yearbook on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
civil society, european security, peacebuilding, human rights
The OSCE’s relations with civil society have been ambiguous: Historically, the Organization was at the forefront in including civil society in both the content and the procedures of its work. However, this happened forty years ago and concerned a particular political context and specific types of civil society engagement. It was very much about giving civil society actors a voice in the former Eastern Bloc in order to promote civic rights and liberties. Since then, the role of civil society organizations, and particularly nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), in promoting international peacebuilding has continued to develop. This has produced the ambiguity that is at the heart of our concerns in this contribution: On the one hand, there is a longestablished and almost routine way for the OSCE to co-operate with and include civil society in its operational procedures. On the other, civil society engagement seems narrow both in terms of the topics it covers and the functions it performs. We will assess this situation by looking at the evolution of civil society functions in international politics and comparing them with the roles played by civil society within the OSCE. We place a particular focus on activities undertaken during 2014, which was characterized by the eruption of the crisis in Ukraine and the OSCE’s Swiss Chairmanship.