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Democratic control of the OSCE: The role of the Parliamentary Assembly

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International institutions play an increasingly important role in resolving political problems. At the same time, these institutions are often criticized for their lack of democratic accountability. One proposed solution for tackling this ‘democratic deficit’ is the creation of interparliamentary organs. They exercise a number of functions comparable to those of national parliaments, in particular with regard to the control of the executive power. Since 1991, a parliamentary assembly has been established within the OSCE. This article discusses whether and to what extent elements of parliamentary control can be identified in the institutional framework of the OSCE. First, the author will determine the institutional links between the Assembly and the intergovernmental OSCE. I will argue that over time, the two bodies have established a rather informal, but quite dense network of contacts and cooperation. Second, the emphasis is on the Assembly’s parliamentary rights. Here the author will show that the Assembly has only acquired a few rather modest rights for exercising parliamentary control. In conclusion, the author argues that the main focus of the Assembly should be on consensus-building among parliamentarians and on facilitating dialog between parliamentarians and the OSCE executive bodies and institutions.


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