The OSCE Human Dimension Committee
The OSCE Human Dimension Committee is one of three committees which were created due to the changed situation in Europe after the end of the Cold War. There is also a Security Committee, as well as an Economic and Environmental Committee. And all three committees are informal, rather political bodies designed to support the work of the OSCE Permanent Council, which meets in Vienna on a weekly basis. Their aim is to promote cooperation between the OSCE member states and to create a basis for discussion. By creating these committees, the OSCE member states hoped to provide instruments to address new kinds of threats to European security.
The mandate of the Human Dimension Committee
The Human Dimension Committee mandate includes the discussion on topics of the human dimension as well as the debate regarding the implementation of the commitments entered into. In addition, the Human Dimension Committee is designed to help the OSCE with the preparation of meetings in the purview of the human dimension. Amongst these ranks the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting between government officials, representatives of the civil society and international organisations, which takes place in Warsaw/Poland. On its President's request, the Committee also addresses other special issues concerning the human dimension. Moreover, the Committee discusses and drafts recommendations for the attention of the OSCE Permanent Council.
Important OSCE forum on human rights issues
The OSCE Chairman designates the Head of the Human Dimension Committee. In 2011 and 2012, Switzerland presided the Human Dimension Committee.
The Committee’s main activity consists of intense informal discussions between the member states and of mediating between the different positions of the member states. The Committee’s work always has to be aligned with the varying interests, priorities and concerns of everybody participating. While in 2011 human trafficking, Sinti and Roma, freedom of the media or freedom of movement were the centre of attention, in 2012 the focus lay on discussions on freedom of the press and freedom of association, the fight against torture, economic, social and cultural rights, national minorities as well as internally displaced persons and refugees.
Since its creation in 2006, the Human Dimension Committee has grown into one of the most important exchange platforms on human rights issues within the OSCE. The voluntary reporting of member states on the implementation of human rights obligations and recommendations has been made use of by more than half of the member states over the last two years. The Committee is still in its start-up phase and needs to consolidate and develop further. There is room for further innovative developments in the field of monitoring and the exchange with the civil society.
- What is the human dimension?
- Decision No. 17/06 Improvement of the consultative process
OSCE, 5 December 2006 (pdf, 3 pages)
- Human rights activities of the OSCE: The Swiss Contribution