Portugal participated in the creation of the organization since its first meeting and was one of the 35 signatories of the Helsinki Final Act (August 1, 1975) which establishes the principles of the relations between participating States. Portugal is also part of the original group of signatory countries of the Paris Charter (21 November 1990).
Among the highlights of the Portuguese participation in the OSCE are the 1996 Lisbon Summit (Lisbon Document 1996), the Chairmanship-in-Office in 2002, which culminated in the Porto Ministerial Council (Final Document 10th Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council), or, more recently, the Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation in 2016 (From Lisbon to Hamburg Declaration) and from which important contributions have been made to the OSCE acquis.
Portugal actively supports the work of the OSCE in its three dimensions - Political-Military, Economic-Environmental and Human - which together form the Organization's comprehensive concept of security. Portugal has also promoted the strengthening of relations with the Partners for Co-operation, in particular with respect to the Mediterranean dimension.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the largest regional security organization in the world ("from Vancouver to Vladivostok"), covering all European states, the Russian Federation, Central Asian countries, Mongolia, the United States of America and Canada, with a total of 57 members. There are also 11 Partners for Co-operation, from the Mediterranean and Asia.
Born out of the process, launched in 1973, "Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe" (CSCE) aimed at improving the climate between the Soviet bloc and NATO, it was strengthened in 1990 with the "Paris Charter for a New Europe", which led to a process of institutionalization which included the 1994 decision to change the name from CSCE to OSCE. However, the Paris Charter does not have the status of an international treaty, which is reflected in the OSCE status: formally it is not an organization in the light of international law.
The main objective of the organization is to promote security and cooperation in the Euro-Asian space through activities in three dimensions:
- 1st Dimension: Politico-Military (conventional arms control, confidence-building and security measures, border management, conflict prevention);
- 2nd Dimension: Economic-Environmental (cooperative management of natural resources and economic cooperation);
- 3rd Dimension: Human (promotion of Democracy, Human Rights, Rule of Law and protection of minorities).
The OSCE Chairmanship is held annually by a participating State (pS). The political leadership is the responsibility of the Heads of State and Government of the pS through the holding of summits, with no periodical meetings (the last one took place in Astana in 2010), which constitute the highest decision-making body of the organization. The Ministerial Council is the high-level decision-making body between Summits and annually meets the Foreign Ministers of the 57 pS. The Permanent Representatives meet weekly at the Permanent Council in Vienna. The Forum for Security Co-operation is the decision-making body in the political-military area.
The structure of the OSCE also includes the Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretary-General, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, the Minsk Group and various Missions, Offices and other field presences, including the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (SMM).
There are also two OSCE related bodies: the Open Skies Consultative Commission, whose mandate is to implement the Open Skies Treaty, and the Joint Consultative Group, to verify compliance with the provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in the Europe-CFE.