At the Vienna headquarters, participating states and their partners maintain an ongoing dialogue within the Permanent Council and its subcommittees. In addition to the security cooperation forum, the OSCE headquarters also holds meetings of permanent bodies under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Open Skies Treaty, as well as a series of review conferences on compliance with specific obligations. Austria has been the headquarters of the OSCE since 1995. This agreement constitutes a technical overhaul of the legal provisions governing the accession of the OSCE, until now governed by the Federal Law on the Legal Status of OSCE institutions in Austria. The new siege agreement does not change the current treatment of the OSCE and its officials in Austria, nor the permanent missions and delegations of the OSCE participating states and cooperation partners. The agreement, signed at the OSCE secretariat in Vienna, governs the legal situation and protection of the OSCE in Austria. The OSCE is the result of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which was established in 1975 in the détente phase between East and West. The Helsinki Final Act (1975), the Paris Charter (1990), the Charter for European Security in Istanbul (1999) and the Astana Declaration (2010) are the main agreements on which the OSCE is based. These important documents define an ever-increasing system of political commitments and commitments, based on a concept of global and cooperative security. This means that the OSCE operates on the principle of unanimity and does not impose decisions on its members.
In the event of a crisis or conflict, an agreement must be sought between the States concerned. Since 1995, the OSCE secretariat has been headquartered in Vienna. Since 1 July 2011, the post of Secretary General has been the post of Italian diplomat Lamberto Zannier. Since 1997, the independent office of the OSCE Representative for Media Freedom has also been based in Vienna, and this function is currently held by Dunja Mijatovic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The OSCE stands out for its full membership: its 57 participating states include the Northern Hemisphere, which stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok and extends to all European countries and includes the United States, Canada and Central Asian states, including Mongolia. Other countries in Asia and the Mediterranean are cooperation partners. The Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (BDIMR) is based in Warsaw and has been headed since 2014 by Michael Link (Germany). THE BDIMR promotes democratic electoral processes through an election observation mission – at the invitation of the country concerned – and provides practical support for the strengthening of democratic institutions of the rule of law and civil society structures. Field operations are a key instrument for conflict prevention, civil crisis management and peace-building. In total, some 3,000 staff members are participating in the 17 operations currently being carried out by the OSCE. In Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Central Asia, there are about two-thirds of local staff and one-third of international staff. The last OSCE field operation is the special observation mission in Ukraine.
With the presence of a thousand observers from 46 countries and its neutral and comprehensive coverage, this mission helps stabilize the situation on the ground. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly consists of 323 parliamentarians from all participating states and focuses on strengthening parliamentary dialogue and hence democratic development in the OSCE region. In July 2016, Christine Muttonen, an Austrian member of the National Council, was elected President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Astrid Thors of Finland has been the High Commissioner for National Minorities since 2013. The High Commissioner, based in The Hague, is trying to identify and defuse the potential for ethnically motivated conflicts as soon as possible.