Update: 19.08.2011

Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)

ODIHR is the OSCE’s main human rights institution. Its mandate is to support OSCE member states in guaranteeing the full respect of human rights and basic freedoms, complying with the rule of law, promoting democratic principles and building, strengthening and protecting democratic institutions as well as promoting tolerance in society as a whole.

The institution, headed by the Slovene Janez Lenarcic since 2008, is based in Warsaw/Poland and employs around 150 people from more than 30 countries. Lenarcic's predecessor was the Austrian Christian Strohal who, in turn, took over from the Swiss diplomat Gérard Stoudmann who chaired ODIHR between 1997 and 2003.

The tasks of ODIHR

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights's core tasks include:

  • Election monitoring as well as technical support during the preparation of elections
  • Practical support in strengthening the rule of law and democratic governance in the OSCE member states (e.g. review of draft legislation in the light of OSCE commitments)
  • Protection of human rights and basic freedoms (e.g. freedom of expression and freedom of the press, supporting of promoters of human rights and independent human rights institutions, action against the death penalty, human rights in the fight against terrorism, action against human trafficking, human rights education)
  • Tolerance and protection against discrimination (e.g. religious freedom, hate speeches, etc.)
  • Improving respect for the rights of Sinti and Roma


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