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Understanding the Mediator: Taking Stock of the OSCE’s Mechanisms and Instruments for Conflict Resolution

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Mediation and dialogue facilitation are at the heart of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europes’s (OSCE) engagements, and have become widely recognised as being among the most effective means for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts both, in terms of costs and results.1 The OSCE has however started with a different set of mechanisms to settle conflicts, such as the Valletta mechanism or the Conciliation Committee. This article examines these mechanisms and elaborates on the reasons why they have never been applied. It further describes the evolvement of new instruments, in particular, its mediation and dialogue facilitation capacities. Further, the OSCE has institutionalised an explicit mediation support capacity to provide adequate assistance, similar to the UN and the EU. Without a doubt, the OSCE can be clearly regarded as a mediator. The article presents the OSCE’s different roles of being a mediator and its struggle for principles like inclusivity and efficiency, or impartiality and neutrality. The stocktaking of mechanisms and instruments and the OSCE’s role as a mediator concludes with the Organization’s weaknesses and strengths, and respective recommendations for further development.

Affiliations: 1: Mediation Support Officer, OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, Vienna


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