Study on Enhancement of NGO Participation

Documentation Section, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Vienna, September 1995


The Budapest Summit requested the Secretary General "to make a
study on how participation of NGOs can be further enhanced".

To prepare the study a team was composed of: Dr. Piotr Switalski
as the team co-ordinator, Ms. Elizabeth Winship (ODIHR), Ms.
Marjut Kuokkanen (Secretariat/CPC) and Mr. Rob Zaagman (HCNM

Twenty participating States contributed to the study
providing, in particular, their experience in co-operation with

The missions in the field also contributed to the study.

The study team co-ordinator approached over 600 NGOs with
a request to submit their views and proposals. He conducted
consultations with the NGOs participating at the ODIHR Civic
Society Seminar in Warsaw (4-7 April 1995). Proposals and
suggestions submitted by NGOs on earlier occasions, including
those made at the Budapest Review Conference, have also been

The study team members examined in detail all contributions.

They have done the preparatory work, including the conclusions.
I wish to express my appreciation for their work.

The study recommends a number of proposals for operational
measures which I believe would enhance NGO participation in OSCE
activities. Having consulted the Troika on my report, I hereby
submit it for consideration by the OSCE States. I suggest
discussion and approval by the Permanent Committee.


Since the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 there has been a close
connection between the CSCE/OSCE and NGOs. For many NGOs the
CSCE/OSCE objectives and provisions have been the point of
reference in their activities to promote human rights, democracy
and the rule of law. Many NGOs have struggled hard to achieve
the realization of OSCE values. Some made decisive contributions
to the fundamental changes in Central and Eastern Europe; for
these NGOs the CSCE/OSCE commitments provided some protection
against discrimination and even persecution.

"NGO" in the CSCE/OSCE understanding of the term has come
to mean any organization declaring itself as such. The NGO
community is thus a very diverse group. "Cause-oriented"
activist groups defend general, "objective" values such as human
rights and fundamental freedoms rather than specific political
interests. Other NGOs represent specific interests (e.g.,
minority organizations).

Another group of NGOs have specialized in
conflict-prevention and crisis-management; they are also active
"on the ground" through mediation and confidence-building.

NGOs also include research and educational institutions.

Traditionally, the CSCE/OSCE has concentrated on contacts
with NGOs active in the Human Dimension. Now, with the OSCE's
rapidly expanding conflict prevention and crisis management
tasks, contributions by NGOs in this field have become very

The NGO community is heterogeneous in terms of what
individual NGOs can do. Some NGOs are well-established, large
institutions, with an international dimension. Some are small
and based on the enthusiasm of a few or just one person.

The conditions in which NGOs work can also be very
different. Some work in full independence under the legal
protection and based on traditions of well established "rule of
law" States. Others receive financial and operative support from
Governments. There are, however, still places in the OSCE area
where, with the Human Dimension just taking root, NGOs encounter
serious bureaucratic and also political obstacles in their

NGOs also differ in terms of their status vis-`-vis the
Government. While some distance themselves from the Government
as much as possible, other are believed to be strongly supported,
if not actually controlled, by the Government (GONGOs).

The OSCE does not make any formal distinction among NGOs and
has always taken a non-discriminatory approach. In principle,
the OSCE can benefit from contributions of all of them, however
much they may differ.

The potential contributions to OSCE work of the NGOs that
maintain contacts with the OSCE and on the basis of data stored
at the ODIHR, can be described as follows:

1. They can promote OSCE goals, objectives and provisions, they
can raise awareness of the OSCE's work and win public support for

2. They can add to the OSCE's fund of ideas and support its
normative work.

3. They can monitor the implementation of OSCE commitments, in
particular those relating to the Human Dimension.

4. They can undertake co-operative activities in the Human
Dimension (election monitoring, legislation advice, etc.) and
other fields.

5. They can engage in conflict prevention and crisis management
tasks, in particular through "non-official" mediation and
communal dialogue. They can assist in the training of OSCE staff
and in the provision of information and background material.

6. They can provide scientific expertise in all areas of OSCE
work: military aspects of security, political and economic
affairs, Human Dimension.

7. Co-operation with NGOs in these areas could contribute
additional financial, organizational and personnel capacities to
the implementation of OSCE tasks.

There are, however, limits in developing the OSCE-NGO link.
The OSCE is an intergovernmental organization. The place of the
NGOs is, by definition, distinct: outside governmental
structures. There are areas e.g., decision-making, that are not
open to NGO participation.


The OSCE, especially in recent years, has accumulated a
body of provisions and measures relating to NGO involvement.

These provisions make the OSCE accessible, in principle, to
all NGOs that declare themselves as such. The participating
States committed themselves to "recognise as NGOs those which
declare themselves as such, according to existing national
procedures" (Moscow HD Meeting 1991:(43)). Thus all NGOs can
establish contacts with the OSCE. The only restrictive proviso,
which was adopted at the 1992 Helsinki Summit, stipulates that
the Summit's corresponding provisions not be applied to "persons
and organizations which resort to the use of violence or publicly
condone terrorism or the use of violence" (Helsinki Document
1992: IV, 16).

The 1992 Helsinki Document was important in further
increasing the openness of the CSCE/OSCE institutions and
structures. In particular, the Chairman-in-Office was mandated
to arrange briefings on the political consultation process and
the other OSCE institutions were requested to provide information
on their activities. NGOs, in particular, should be notified of
the dates and agendas of OSCE meetings and of the activation of
mechanisms. Each institution was to designate an "NGO liaison

The 1994 Budapest Summit has requested OSCE Missions to name
a mission member to liaise with NGOs (Budapest Document 1994:
VII, 11).

There are some provisions applicable to specific OSCE
institutions. The ODIHR serves as the channel for communication
with NGOs in the Human Dimension field (Helsinki Document 1992:
VI, (5c)). The ODIHR is the OSCE institution to receive
information provided by NGOs with relevant expertise in the Human
Dimension field (Rome 1993: IV, 4), and to receive the written
contributions which NGOs are invited to submit to Human Dimension
implementation meetings, review conferences and seminars,
(Helsinki 1992: VI, (15)). ODIHR is also requested to ask NGOs
for suggestions about whom to include in its database of experts
in the field of the Human Dimension (Rome Decisions 1993: IV, 4).

The mandate of the High Commissioner on National Minorities
also provides for links with NGOs. He/she may collect and
receive information on national minorities from NGOs (Helsinki
Document 1992: II, (23a)). NGOs that are directly concerned,
operate in the area of tension and are entitled by a national
minority to represent it can provide specific reports to the High
Commissioner, and he/she is encouraged to communicate with them
personally when visiting the area (ibid.: II, (26)). It is
important to note, however, that while the High Commissioner's
mandate does indeed empower him/her to maintain such contacts,
it does not entail an obligation for him to do so.

Since the Moscow Meeting the Secretariat has been the main
institution responsible for providing NGOs with non-restricted
OSCE documents (Moscow HD Meeting 1991: 43.6). It is also
encouraged to work towards increased involvement of NGOs with
relevant experience in Economic Dimension activities (Budapest
Document 1994: IX, 27.). The OSCE documents contain
guidelines governing access by NGOs to OSCE activities and, in
particular, their participation in meetings.

At review conferences, ODIHR seminars, workshops and
meetings, meetings of the Senior Council when convened as the
Economic Forum, human rights implementation meetings and other
expert meetings, the plenaries are open to NGOs. The meetings
themselves are free to decide about opening additional sessions
to NGO attendance (Helsinki Document 1992, IV, (15)).

Human Dimension implementation meetings and Human Dimension
seminars afford NGOs greater opportunities for participating and
contributing. NGOs with relevant experience in the field of the
Human Dimension are invited to make written presentations, on the
basis of which they can be invited to make oral statements in
discussion groups at Human Dimension seminars or in subsidiary
working bodies at Human Dimension implementation meetings. All
the formal sessions of plenaries and working bodies at
implementation meetings are open to NGOs, as are all the plenary
and discussion groups at seminars. Moreover, the schedules of
implementation meetings are meant to leave sufficient space for
contacts with NGOs (CSO VG 29, 1993).

It should be noted that, as far as review conferences are
concerned, Budapest set an important precedent by granting NGOs
access to the Human Dimension Working Group along the lines
applicable to Human Dimension Meetings (27-CSO/Dec. 1, 15 June

Concerning the treatment NGOs are to be accorded at
meetings, relevant standards were adopted at the Moscow Human
Dimension Meeting 1991, which in Helsinki were made applicable
to all CSCE meetings (Helsinki Document 1992, IV, (15)). NGOs
can distribute written contributions to all delegations (Moscow
HD Meeting 1991: (43.5)); they are given common space for their
own use as well as access to technical facilities such as phones
and fax machines (at their own expense) (Moscow HD Meeting 1991:
(43.7)). Furthermore, participating States are encouraged to
include NGO members in their delegations at meetings or to invite
them to meetings (Moscow HD Meeting 1991 (43.7)), and they are
asked to facilitate informal get-togethers with NGO
representatives during OSCE meetings (Helsinki Document 1992: IV,

At the 1991 Moscow Meeting the participating States
undertook to facilitate the ability of NGOs to conduct their
activities freely on their territory and committed themselves in
concrete terms to strengthen the modalities for contacts and
exchanges of views between NGOs and national authorities (Moscow
HD Meeting 1991: (43.1)-(43.4)).

As a practical measure the 1992 Helsinki Summit requested
the participating States to "designate, as appropriate, one
member of their Foreign Ministries and a member of their
delegations to CSCE meetings to be responsible for NGO liaison"
(Helsinki Document 1992: IV, 15) and to "promote contacts and
exchanges of views between NGOs and relevant national authorities
and governmental institutions between CSCE meetings" (Ibid.).

* * *

A conclusion that can be drawn from the above overview of
existing provisions is that they seem to constitute a good basis
for an effective OSCE-NGO link. Implementation of these
provisions could, however, be promoted by putting them in a
consolidated form and circulating them widely, thereby raising
awareness of them. Such a compilation is enclosed in Annex I of
this study.


1. The ODIHR and OSCE meetings

The main institutional channel for contacts between the OSCE
and NGOs is the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human
Rights. Within the Office an NGO Liaison Advisor is exclusively
designated to work with NGOs.

Of particular importance is NGO involvement in Human
Dimension meetings. NGOs can participate in other ODIHR
programmes: in ODIHR election observation missions, in the
activities of the Contact Point for Roma Issues, and through NGO
materials submitted to the ODIHR (reports, analyses,
communications and so forth). The ODIHR has also been tasked
with collecting information from NGOs on media issues (Budapest
Document 1994: VIII, 10).

1.1. Human Dimension Seminars and Meetings

The Human Dimension Seminars organized by the ODIHR in
Warsaw, beginning with "Tolerance" in November 1992, have
provided NGOs with new opportunities for establishing contact
with OSCE delegations and engaging in free and open dialogue and
debate on States' commitments to Human Dimension principles. A
format similar to the one established for NGO participation in
Human Dimension Seminars was introduced for the Implementation
Meeting on Human Dimension Issues (September-October 1993).
These seminars and meetings have provided NGOs with broad access
not only to State delegations, but also to the various OSCE
institutions and other international and intergovernmental
organizations. The number of NGOs participating in them has
grown from 17 at the 1992 Seminar on Tolerance to 123 at the
Seminar on Civic Society in April 1995. A list of ODIHR Seminars
follows in Annex II with an indication of the numbers of NGOs

The growing interest shown by NGOs in OSCE activities was
also reflected by their contributions to the Budapest Review
Conference. 305 representatives of NGOs registered for it. 57
written presentations were submitted by NGOs to the Review

1.2. Other Seminars and Meetings

NGOs have the possibility of taking part in OSCE regional
seminars in Central Asia. The Seminar on Human Dimension Issues
in Central Asia, organized in Almaty (April 1994) as well as the
Tashkent Seminar on General CSCE Issues (September 1994),
provided opportunities for local and regional NGOs to meet
directly with government representatives and to discuss also
Human Dimension Issues.

The Seminar on Early Warning and Preventive Diplomacy
(January 1994) was for NGOs an occasion to discuss their specific
roles in early warning and conflict prevention. This seminar led
to an initiative of one NGO which, in co-sponsorship with the
OSCE Secretariat, brought together in Stadtschlaining (September
1994) "conflict prevention NGOs" and OSCE officials and

1.3. Election Observation

From its very inception, the Warsaw Office, first as the
Office for Free Elections and later as the ODIHR, has included
national and international NGOs in its election observation
activities. NGOs such as the International Foundation for
Electoral Systems, the International Republican Institute, the
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the
Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the British Helsinki Human
Rights Group have exchanged views with the Office on election
practices and have participated jointly in briefings and press
conferences with the ODIHR. Very often these NGOs have spent a
significant amount of time in the country well in advance of
elections and have thus provided the ODIHR with valued political
analysis. This tradition has recently been strengthened by
co-operation with organizations engaged in analysis of
pre-election media practice [e.g. the European Institute for the
Media, the Centre for Mass Media in Minsk, the Centres for
Independent Journalism (Bratislava and Prague) and the
Association of Non-Governmental TV and Radio Stations of

1.4. Non-OSCE Conferences, Seminars, Points of Contact

The NGO Liaison Advisor and other ODIHR staff have visited
all participating States in Central/Eastern Europe, the Baltics
and the former Soviet Union, attending conferences, seminars and
workshops, and maintaining contact with NGOs. Great efforts are
taken to provide NGOs with OSCE documents and to assist them in
building networks among themselves. Very often the ODIHR
benefits from assistance "in the field" from the NGO/Human
Dimension contact points in OSCE Missions, and from OSCE desk
officers and their NGO liaison officers in Ministries of Foreign

1.5. NGO Documents

The ODIHR receives a large amount of communications from
NGOs mostly relating to human rights violations in the
participating States. A new system has been developed for the
documentation of materials received from NGOs concerning
allegations of the non-implementation of human dimension
principles. This register (a database) will provide a record of
"complaints" which may contribute to revealing patterns that
could alert the Chairman-in-Office, who has been asked "to inform
the Permanent Council of serious cases of alleged
non-implementation of human dimension commitments, ... on the
basis of information from the ODIHR" (Budapest Document 1994:
VIII, 5).

1.6. ODIHR's In-House NGO/Research Institution Database

The information on NGOs and Research Institutions that have
established contacts with the ODIHR are recorded in a database
covering nearly 1,000 organizations. This database serves as a
useful tool, providing lists of NGOs on request to NGOs, the
Missions and OSCE Desks in Ministries, according to specified
categories. The database is neither an exhaustive list of
HD-related NGOs nor is it a list of "approved" or "accredited"
NGOs, since no such status exists within the OSCE. The NGO
Liaison Advisor also keeps on file NGO lists and indexes from
other organizations.

1.7. ODIHR Contact Point for Roma Issues (CPRI)

The programme of activities of the CPRI will include the
completion of a comprehensive list of Roma NGOs, governmental
institutions dealing with Roma, research and cultural centres,
media and individual experts. Roma NGO interns will work with
ODIHR staff to prepare studies, plan and co-ordinate training
programmes for Roma NGOs and conduct a workshop in October 1995
on networking with Roma NGOs.

1.8. Capacity-Building Workshops - Training for NGO Leadership

The ODIHR has committed itself to holding a series of
training workshops for NGOs on organizational, communication and
management skills. These workshops will be conducted in several
OSCE regions. The first programme took place in Vilnius and
included NGO representatives from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In spite of the broad range and growing number of NGOs that
are in contact with the ODIHR, there are no selection criteria
beyond the "terrorism" paragraph (Helsinki Document 1992: IV,
16). The organization remains open and flexible enough to
accommodate the views and suggestions of a vast range of NGOs,
ranging from nascent grass-roots groups in the new democracies
to those in older democratic societies with a greater depth of

* * *

There is an ever growing interest among NGOs in
participating more fully in ODIHR activities - beyond attending
Human Dimension Seminars. The ODIHR has the flexibility to
determine which activities to take up, and should maintain its
freedom and independence considering proposals on contributions
NGOs may make to furthering the ODIHR's tasks. Specific contacts
and developments in ODIHR's relations with NGOs could be a
subject of the regular reports of the Director of the ODIHR to
the Permanent Council.

2. The High Commissioner on National Minorities

The relationship between the HCNM and NGOs, as foreseen by
his mandate and practised in his day-to-day activities, takes the
following basic forms:

- All NGOs may provide more general information; some of them,
like Amnesty International, the Minority Rights Group, Human
Rights Watch and several local NGOs representing minorities, do
so quite often. - NGOs which are "directly concerned" may
provide "specific reports" and may be HCNM interlocutors during
visits (the HCNM safeguards the confidentiality of information
gained from NGOs). The HCNM often contacts representatives of
associations, NGOs, religious and other groups of national
minorities when consulting with "parties directly concerned". -
The only restrictive proviso is that the High Commissioner
should not communicate with or acknowledge communications from
any person or organization which practices or publicly condones
terrorism or violence. - The HCNM's outside experts who
sometimes accompany the HCNM on visits to countries may have a
non-governmental and/or academic background.

In addition, the High Commissioner often asks outside
experts to provide him with general background information.
Sometimes an NGO will organize concrete projects, e.g. education
projects, language training centres, dialogue sessions and so
on. A valuable supportive role is fulfilled in particular by the
Foundation on Inter-Ethnic Relations.

Conversely, outsiders, including NGOs, often ask for
information on the HCNM including his modus operandi and his
reports and recommendations. In such cases, (only)
non-confidential information is released to NGOs.

* * *

So far the High Commissioner has been quite content with the
scope afforded him by his mandate and sees no need for changes.

3. Secretariat

The Secretary General has ample opportunities for NGO
contacts, in particular through meetings with NGO representatives
visiting Vienna. In addition, he has attended meetings sponsored
by NGOs in OSCE States. The Department for CIO Support provided
support to an NGO-organized seminar in Stadtschlaining, Austria,
in September 1994, which explored possibilities for OSCE
co-operation with NGOs active in conflict prevention.

Within the Secretariat, several tasks in regard to
co-operation with NGOs fall within the competences of the
Department for CIO Support. In addition to keeping up contacts
with NGOs from Vienna, providing information at the request of
NGOs and meeting visitors, it is also developing a network of
research organizations, aimed at fostering the exchange of
information and expertise. The Department also co-operates with
NGOs by providing support to projects of interest to the OSCE,
initiated, organized and financed by NGOs. Such projects have
included the publication of the first issue of an OSCE Yearbook,
the eventual establishment of an OSCE Summer School and the
organisation of seminars commemorating the Twentieth Anniversary
of the Signing of the Final Act.

The Conflict Prevention Centre maintains contacts with NGOs
both through NGO participation in CPC-sponsored seminars, and
through participation of CPC officers in events organized by
NGOs. The CPC also regularly receives information materials from
a number of NGOs. Such materials have been used on many
occasions as a source of background information for papers or for
briefing Mission members. In following up the Stadtschlaining
Seminar, the CPC, together with a group of NGOs, organized a
meeting on 13 June l995 to discuss a possible NGO consortium for
improved co-operation and information exchange on conflict
management and early warning.

4. Missions in the field

The OSCE Missions emphasize the importance of contacts
between NGOs and the Missions. The volume and intensity of
contacts have, however, been uneven. These contacts have mainly
been concentrated on NGOs working on issues related to human
rights and inter-ethnic relations. The Missions have established
contacts with some NGOs on a permanent basis. According to the
Missions, the number of NGOs in most of the mission areas and the
experience of these NGOs are limited as they have only been
operating for a short time.

Most of the Missions have not nominated a full-time NGO
liaison officer because of the limited number of Mission
personnel. The Missions have, however, designated one of their
members to be responsible for strengthening relations between the
NGOs and the Mission. As the system of liaison officers is
further developed, it will also be useful to develop the contacts
between the Liaison Officers in order to exchange information and
experience. According to some Missions, the OSCE Seminars offer
a good forum for enlarging NGO contacts. The OSCE Mission to
Tajikistan is aiming to create an OSCE Association in the
country. In Skopje, the Mission has been provided with studies
prepared by NGOs on topics that are relevant to its work.

* * *

The recruitment of NGO "representatives" to be seconded by
participating state as Mission members is welcomed by most of the
Missions. NGOs may be most useful in providing personnel
familiar with local languages and with local conditions.
Recruitment of such NGO "representatives" is, however, dependent
on a proposal from the respective Government considering their
secondment. On the spot, NGOs may also wish to provide some
logistical support to the Mission.

In brief, the OSCE Missions are interested in developing
their contacts with NGOs. NGOs can provide very useful
information and proposals. Some Missions underline the
importance of defining the specific areas of co-operation so that
a clear understanding can emerge on the different but
complementary tasks of Missions and NGOs.

IV. OSCE Participating States and NGOs

1. Existing practice regarding contacts

Several states which responded to our request to contribute
to the preparation of the study provided information on their
experience with NGOs contacts.

In about twenty OSCE States NGO liaison officers have been
formally designated by the Foreign Ministries. In the Foreign
Ministries of several other States this function is de facto
performed by OSCE departments or desk officers.

In countries where such NGO liaison points are established,
they are considered to function well. These points of contacts
ensure exchange of information and dialogue with NGOs active in
the field of the Human Dimension and, in some cases, provide
actual assistance to NGO activities.

A list of NGOs maintaining contacts (an NGO roster) has
proved to be helpful. A national NGO mailing list facilitates
dissemination of information including information on the OSCE.

In some countries regular meetings are held (four to five
times a year) to inform and consult NGOs, in particular before
important OSCE meetings. Some States regularly include NGO
representatives in their delegations and second them as mission
members or experts. In some countries a fund has been
established for NGO activities in the field and for financing
scholarships and OSCE-supportive projects launched by NGOs.

Some States report positive experience with regard to the
co-ordination of NGOs among themselves and the establishment of
a joint representation for contacts with Ministries for Foreign
Affairs (Advisory Group, etc.).

2. Expectations voiced by OSCE States

The comments sent by twenty OSCE States in response to our
request show agreement that since the Charter of Paris the
possibilities offered to NGOs and their status within the OSCE
have been substantially improved. The contribution of NGOs to
OSCE meetings and, in particular, to the review of Human
Dimension issues is considered valuable and often essential to
the success of seminars and meetings. At the same time, several
States see a need to open up more OSCE activities to NGO

The prevailing view seems to be that while some further
improvements in the modalities of OSCE-NGOs contacts are
desirable, no fundamental change in OSCE policy towards NGOs is
necessary. In particular, it is felt that no new formal,
restrictive criteria or formal differentiation of status for NGO
participation should be introduced and no redefinition attempted
of what constitutes an NGO. It is suggested that a pluralistic,
non-bureaucratic and non-discriminatory approach should continue.

Concrete suggestions put forward by States take three main
directions :

a) Improved link between OSCE/Vienna and NGOs. It is proposed
that a greater number of meetings in Vienna should be open to
participation, e.g. informal meetings of Heads of Missions, as
well as some of the meetings of the OSCE ad hoc group on Kosovo,
Sanjak and Vojvodina. On the basis of proposals from the Chair,
NGOs should be invited to attend the Permanent Council meetings
on an ad hoc basis, e.g. when Human Dimension issues are
discussed. Informal meetings with NGOs or informal briefings by
invited NGOs should be held on specific subjects at the
Chairmanship's initiative following the precedent of a briefing
by the Helsinki Watch on Chechnya.

States propose that OSCE institutions in Vienna should have a
designated NGO liaison officer.

Some States see a need for setting up a simpler procedure for
circulation by NGOs of written material to Permanent Missions and
OSCE Institutions.

There are proposals that NGOs should have the possibility of
contributing to other OSCE Meetings and Seminars in a way
comparable to that afforded at Human Dimension meetings.
It is accepted that negotiations on sensitive security issues
should remain closed.

b) NGO contribution to conflict prevention

The OSCE should seek ways drawing on the expertise of the NGO
community more fully. Conflict prevention is the area often
cited as a priority. It is proposed, inter alia, that NGOs
should be more involved in fact-finding and long-term missions.
They can be more involved in training programmes. Their good
offices potential should be better utilized.

c) Human Dimension monitoring

There are several proposals aimed at inviting NGOs to contribute
more fully to election monitoring, involving them more in
reporting on human rights violations, and obliging the OSCE
bodies to give serious consideration to NGO proposals for action.

Suggestions have been put forward to establish within the OSCE
a voluntary fund for NGO-related projects.


More than one hundred NGOs made a contribution to this
study through their written responses, jointly sponsored papers
and oral comments. The overall attitude emerging from the views
expressed by NGOs is that they consider their contacts with the
OSCE to be important and experience from these contacts thus far
to be generally positive. Several NGOs think that improvements
are necessary in the existing practice and that new measures to
strengthen the link are desirable. All replies were motivated
by the desire to strengthen contacts with the OSCE and expand the
possibilities for NGO contribution.

Their suggestions and proposals can be summarized as

1. General Approach

There was a certain tendency in some of the proposals to
formalize the OSCE-NGO link. A suggestion was made, for example,
to establish formal consultancy status for NGOs, "a register of
recognized NGOs" or at least "an index of NGOs staying in contact
with the OSCE". The latter proposal is in fact already being
implemented in the form of the ODIHR's database.

It was also proposed that the OSCE should establish a small
committee to deal with NGO matters. A formal NGO contact point
at the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna was put forward as another
idea. At the same time some NGOs proposed that an NGO
co-ordinator be established from among NGOs to represent them
vis-`-vis the OSCE. According to some NGOs, they should try to
organize themselves better nationally. The ODIHR, they feel,
should continue to serve as a clearinghouse for information on
NGOs in the OSCE area.

Expressing disappointment regarding the current status of
the implementation of OSCE commitments relating to NGOs, several
NGOs urged that this commitments must be put into force "ad
literam" and their implementation thoroughly reviewed on a
regular basis. Some even proposed that a "constitution" of the
rights of NGOs in their relations with governments should be
worked out. To acquaint them more fully with their rights it was
proposed that all OSCE provisions on the subject be compiled and
circulated to NGOs.

Finally, proposals were submitted encouraging the OSCE to
establish a fund for providing financial support to NGO
activities in relation to the OSCE. A special fund for promoting
NGOs and civil society more broadly was also suggested.

2. Access to OSCE Information

While recognizing that the OSCE has recently become
significantly more transparent, NGOs still consider that a lot
more needs to be done to improve their access to OSCE
information. The idea was put forward that an annual meeting
between the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and NGOs should be organized
for this purpose on the eve of each Summit and Council Meeting.

OSCE officials were requested to meet with local NGOs when
visiting OSCE countries. Providing regular information on all
OSCE activities was considered important. Some believed that the
establishment of an OSCE public relations group to inform NGOs
on OSCE work might help to improve the situation. Some NGOs were
calling for making all "minutes" and other Permanent Council and
Senior Council documents available to the public as well as all
missions' reports.

3. Contribution of NGOs to OSCE Meetings and other Activities.

It was stressed in several NGO letters that they should be
allowed to participate in and contribute to OSCE meetings more
fully. They proposed, in particular, that:

- at review meetings NGOs should be allowed to address all
working groups and to do so not only during sessions devoted to
implementation review; - NGOs should have a chance to observe
Ministerial Council and Senior Council meetings; - The PC
should be open to NGOs when discussing Human Dimension issues;
- NGOs should also have the possibility of participating at
meetings other than HD meetings (Economic Forum meetings and
seminars, FSC and its seminars).

Some NGOs would like to have their status at OSCE seminars
upgraded (i.e. to have the possibility of taking the floor at any
time). They encourage the OSCE States to include NGO members in
their delegations. Some small NGOs would be interested in
organizing at each OSCE meeting a special session for the
presentation of short papers by NGOs.

NGOs would like to see their input to conflict prevention
significantly increased. Their proposals call for:

- involving NGOs in preparing and carrying out OSCE missions;
in preparing them, the OSCE should make greater use of
information collected by NGOs; in conducting them, experts
should meet with local NGOs when visiting a country; -
selecting long-term mission members taking into account
suggestions by NGOs; - regular meetings should be held on
OSCE-NGO co-operation in conflict prevention.

The establishment of a visible focal point for NGO
contributions to OSCE decision-making bodies was suggested. NGOs
would like to have the opportunity to introduce their papers
directly to the Vienna-based structures and Institutions for
their attention. They would be interested in being more involved
in supplying the ODIHR with information on non-implementation of
Human Dimension issues. Some even suggested that an office of
Ombudsman be established allowing NGOs to bring complaints
against governments to the attention of the OSCE.

In other fields of activity, NGOs would wish to have their
representatives included in the ODIHR database of experts for use
as advisers on missions and in election monitoring.


On the basis of past experience with OSCE-NGO co-operation
and also of the above overview of needs and possibilities, I
submit the following:

1. Participating States should implement their commitments
concerning the involvement of NGOs in OSCE activities, including
the designation of NGO liaison persons.

2. Once a year, the Chairman of the Permanent Council
supported by OSCE institutions should organize a meeting with
NGOs for broad exchange of information.

3. Whenever major OSCE meetings take place that are open to NGO
participation, specific NGO briefings should be organized by the

4. When on official trips and missions, OSCE officials and
officers should undertake, time and mandate permitting, to meet
representatives of local NGOs to present information on OSCE

5. The new regulation for documents classification
(Administrative Directive No. 4/95) will be made known to NGOs.
NGOs on the ODIHR database will be offered to be put on the OSCE
general distribution mailing list.

7. The Chairman of the Permanent Council may invite NGOs to
address ad hoc informal meetings held in the framework of the
Permanent Council, on the basis of their written contributions
and expressed interest.

He may also organize briefings with interested NGOs before
or after formal meetings of the Permanent Council, on specific
points of the Permanent Council agenda.

8. The Secretary General should appoint amongst the
Secretariat-staff an NGO liaison person to serve as their point
of contact with the Vienna-based bodies and institutions.

9. NGOs should be advised to channel their written
contributions, petitions and communications to the ODIHR, which
will keep their titles and circulate corresponding lists
periodically to participating States in Vienna.

10. NGOs should be given the opportunity to disseminate through
the Secretariat/Department of Conferences Services written
contributions to all delegations in Vienna ("NGO communications
pigeon holes").

11. The ODIHR, while providing information on implementation
issues as spelled out in paras VIII, 5 and 8 of the Budapest
Decisions, should pay due attention to information received from
NGOs regarding the monitoring of Human Dimension implementation.

12. Due consideration should be given to inviting NGOs with
relevant expertise to FSC/CPC seminars.

13. NGOs should be invited to contribute to the review of the
implementation of OSCE commitments beyond Human Dimension issues
subject to provisions to be determined later.

14. The Conflict Prevention Centre should use NGO expertise in
supplying missions with background studies and current
information as well as in training OSCE mission members

15. The Secretary General should organize, together with the
HCNM and ODIHR, regular meetings with interested NGOs active in
conflict prevention to discuss further possibilities for

16. OSCE field missions should be encouraged to seek and
maintain regular contacts with the relevant NGOs active in the
country or region concerned.

17. The NGOs which are active in the region where OSCE regional
seminars take place should be further encouraged to participate
in such seminars.

ANNEX I Norms and Commitments Concerning Freedom of Association
and Non-Governmental Organizations

References from OSCE Documents:

Budapest Document 1994 - Towards a Genuine Partnership in a New
Era; Helsinki Document 1992 - The Challenges of Change; Moscow
Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE;
Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of
the CSCE; Charter of Paris for a New Europe; Conference on
Security and Co-operation in Europe - Final Act;

Budapest Document 1994 - Towards a Genuine Partnership in a New

Budapest Decisions



3. The participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
was a welcome addition to the implementation review. In their
statements, these organizations contributed ideas and raised
issues of concern for participating States to take into
consideration. They also informed the participating States of
their activities, such as in the area of conflict prevention and
resolution. The experience of the Budapest Review Conference
invites further consideration with regard to promoting within the
CSCE the dialogue between governments and NGOs of the
participating States, in addition to State-to-State dialogue.


Role of the ODIHR

10. The participating States decide to....

- task the ODIHR to act as a clearinghouse for the exchange
of information on media issues in the region, and encourage
governments, journalists and NGOs to provide the ODIHR with
information on the situation of the media.

11. The ODIHR will be consulted on a CSCE mission's mandate
before adoption and will contribute to the follow-up of mission
reports as decided by the Permanent Council. The ODIHR's
knowledge of experts on the human dimension should be used to
help to staff CSCE missions. These missions will also designate
a mission member to liaise with the ODIHR and with NGOs on human
dimension issues.

Role of NGOs

17. The participating States and CSCE institutions will provide
opportunities for increased involvement of NGOS in CSCE
activities as foreseen in Chapter IV of the Helsinki Document
1992. They will search for ways in which the CSCE can best make
use of the work and information provided by NGOs. The Secretary
General is requested to make a study on how participation of NGOs
can be further enhanced.

Roma and Sinti

23. The participating States decide to appoint within the ODIHR
a contact point for Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) issues. The ODIHR
will be tasked to:

- facilitate contacts on Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) issues
between participating States, international organizations and
institutions and NGOs;

Budapest, 6 December 1994

Helsinki Document 1992 - The Challenges of Change

Helsinki Summit Declaration

The CSCE and the management of change

42. We attach particular importance to the active involvement
of our publics in the CSCE. We will expand the opportunities for
contributions by and co-operation with individuals and
non-governmental organizations in our work.

Helsinki Decisions



Sources of information about national minority issues

(23) The High Commissioner may

(23a)collect and receive information regarding the situation of
national minorities and the role of parties involved therein from
any source, including the media and non-governmental
organizations with the exception referred to in paragraph (25);

(25) The High Commissioner will not communicate with and will not
acknowledge communications from any person or organisation which
practises or publicly condones terrorism or violence.

Parties directly concerned

(26) Parties directly concerned in tensions who can provide
specific reports to the High Commissioner and with whom the High
Commissioner will seek to communicate in person during a visit
to a participating State are the following:

(26a)governments of participating States, including, if
appropriate, regional and local authorities in areas in which
national minorities reside;

(26b)representatives of associations, non-governmental
organisations, religious and other groups of national minorities
directly concerned and in the area of tension, which are
authorized by the persons belonging to those national minorities
to represent them.



(1) The new tasks before the CSCE require clearer relations and
closer contacts with international organisations, in particular
with the United Nations, and non-participating States. The CSCE
remains at the same time a process whose activities go far beyond
formal relations among governments to involve citizens and
societies of the participating States. Successful efforts to
build a lasting peaceful and democratic order and to manage the
process of change require more structured and substantive input
from groups, individuals, States and organisations outside the
CSCE process. to this end, the participating States have
decided as follows:

Increasing openness of CSCE activities, promoting understanding
of the CSCE, expanding the role of NGOs

(12) The participating States will increase the openness of the
CSCE institutions and structures and ensure wide dissemination
of information on the CSCE.

(13) To this end:

- the Chairman-in-Office assisted by the CSCE Secretariat
will arrange briefings on the political consultation process;

- the CSCE institutions will, within existing budgets,
provide information to the public and organize public briefings
on their activities;

- the Secretariat will facilitate the flow of information
to and contacts with the media, bearing in mind that CSCE policy
issues remain the responsibility of participating States.

(14) The participating States will provide opportunities for the
increased involvement of non-governmental organizations in CSCE

(15) They will, accordingly:

- apply to all CSCE meetings the guidelines previously
agreed for NGO access to certain CSCE meetings;

- make open to NGOs all plenary meetings of review
conferences, ODIHR seminars, workshops and meetings, the CSO when
meeting as the Economic Forum, and human rights implementation
meetings, as well as other expert meetings. In addition each
meeting may decide to open some other sessions to attendance by

- instruct Directors of CSCE institutions and Executive
Secretaries of CSCE meetings to designate an "NGO liaison person"
from among their staff;

- designate, as appropriate, one member of their Foreign
Ministries and a member of their delegations to CSCE meetings to
be responsible for NGO liaison;

- promote contacts and exchanges of views between NGOs and
relevant national authorities and governmental institutions
between CSCE meetings;

- facilitate during CSCE meetings informal discussion
meetings between representatives of participating States and of

- encourage written presentations by NGOs to CSCE
institutions and meetings, titles of which may be kept and
provided to the participating States upon request;

- provide encouragement to NGOs organizing seminars on
CSCE-related issues;

- notify NGOs through the CSCE institutions of the dates of
future CSCE meetings, together with an indication, when possible,
of the subjects to be addressed, as well as, upon request, the
activations of CSCE mechanisms which have been made known to all
participating States.

(16) The above provisions will not be applied to persons or
organizations which resort to the use of violence or publicly
condone terrorism or the use of violence.

Helsinki, 10 July 1992

Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the


(43) The participating States will recognize as NGOs those which
declare themselves as such, according to existing national
procedures, and will facilitate the ability of such organizations
to conduct their activities freely on their territories; to that
effect they will

(43.1)- endeavour to seek ways of further strengthening
modalities for contacts and exchanges of views between NGOs and
relevant national authorities and governmental institutions;

(43.1)- endeavour to facilitate visits to their countries by NGOs
from within any of the participating States in order to observe
human dimension conditions;

(43.3)- welcome NGO activities, including, inter alia, observing
compliance with CSCE commitments in the field of the human

(43.4)- allow NGOs, in view of their important function within
the human dimension of the CSCE, to convey their views to their
own governments and the governments of all the other
participating States during the future work of the CSCE on the
human dimension.

(43.5)During the future work of the CSCE on the human dimension,
NGOs will have the opportunity to distribute written
contributions on specific issues of the human dimension of the
CSCE to all delegations.

(43.6)The CSCE Secretariat will, within the framework of the
resources at its disposal, respond favourably to requests by NGOs
for non-restricted documents of the CSCE.

(43.7)Guidelines for the participating of NGOs in the future work
of the CSCE on the human dimension might, inter alia, include the

(i) NGOs should be allotted common space at such meeting
sites or in their immediate vicinity for their use as well as
reasonable access, at their own expense, to technical facilities,
including photocopying machines, telephones and fax machines,

(ii) NGOs should be informed and briefed on openness and
access procedures in a timely manner,

(iii)delegations to CSCE meetings should be further
encouraged to include or invite NGO members.

The participating States recommend that the Helsinki Follow-up
Meeting consider establishing such guidelines.

Moscow, 3 Oct. 1991 * * * * *

Charter of Paris for a New Europe

A new era of Democracy, Peace and Unity

Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law

We affirm that, without discrimination,

every individual has the right to: freedom of thought,
conscience and religion or belief; freedom of expression;
freedom of association and peaceful assembly; freedom
of movement;

Guidelines for the Future

Non-governmental Organizations

We recall the major role that non-governmental
organizations, religious and other groups and individuals have
played in the achievement of the objectives of the CSCE and will
further facilitate their activities for the implementation of the
CSCE commitments by the participating States. These
organizations, groups and individuals must be involved in an
appropriate way in the activities and new structures of the CSCE
in order to fulfil their important tasks.

Supplementary document to give effect to certain provisions
contained in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe

I. Institutional arrangements

E. The CSCE Secretariat

1. The Secretariat will :

-- Provide information in the public domain regarding the CSCE
to individuals, NGOs, international organizations and
non-participating States;

Annex II

Seminar of experts on democratic institutions

II. Timetable and other organizational modalities

4. Agenda item 4 will be dealt with in the Plenary as well as in
the following three Study Groups:

*Study Group B:

- The organization of elections - The organization of
political parties - The organization of independent
non-governmental organizations (trade unions, employers'
organizations) - The role of the media

Paris, 19 - 21 November 1990

Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of
the CSCE


(9) The participating States reaffirm that

(9.2)- everyone will have the right of peaceful assembly and
demonstration. Any restrictions which may be placed on the
exercise of these rights will be prescribed by law and consistent
with international standards;

(9.3)- the right of association will be guaranteed. The right
to form and - subject to the general right of a trade union to
determine its own membership - freely to join a trade union will
be guaranteed. These rights will exclude any prior control.
Freedom of association for workers, including the freedom to
strike, will be guaranteed, subject to limitations prescribed
by law and consistent with international standards;

(10) In reaffirming their commitment to ensure effectively the
rights of the individual to know and act upon human rights and
fundamental freedoms, and to contribute actively, individually
or in association with others, to their promotion and protection,
the participating States express their commitment to

(10.1)- respect the right of everyone, individually or in
association with others, to seek, receive and impart freely views
and information on human rights and fundamental freedoms,
including the rights to disseminate and publish such views and

(10.2)- respect the rights of everyone, individually or in
association with others, to study and discuss the observance of
human rights and fundamental freedoms and to develop and discuss
ideas for improved protection of human rights and better means
for ensuring compliance with international human rights

(10.3)- ensure that individuals are permitted to exercise the
right to association, including the right to form, join and
participate effectively in non-governmental organizations which
seek the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, including trade unions and human rights monitoring

(10.4)- allow members of such groups and organizations to have
unhindered access to and communication with similar bodies within
and outside their countries and with international organizations,
to engage in exchanges, contacts and co-operation with such
groups and organizations and to solicit, receive and utilize for
the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and
fundamental freedoms voluntary financial contributions from
national and international sources as provided for by law. (11)
The participating States further affirm that, where violations
of human rights and fundamental freedoms are alleged to have
occurred, the effective remedies available include

(11.1)- the right of the individual to seek and receive adequate
legal assistance;

(11.2)- the right of the individual to seek and receive
assistance from others in defending human rights and fundamental
freedoms, and to assist others in defending human rights and
fundamental freedoms;

(11.3)- the right of individuals or groups acting on their behalf
to communicate with international bodies with competence to
receive and consider information concerning allegations of human
rights abuses.

(12) The participating States, wishing to ensure greater
transparency in the implementation of the commitments undertaken
in the Vienna Concluding Document under the heading of the human
dimension of the CSCE, decide to accept as a confidence-building
measure the presence of observers sent by participating States
and representatives of non-governmental organizations and other
interested persons at proceedings before courts as provided for
in national legislation and international law; it is understood
that proceedings may only be held in camera in the circumstances
prescribed by law and consistent with obligations under
international law and international commitments.




The Chairman notes that the practices of openness and access to
the Meetings of the Conference on the Human Dimension, as they
were applied at the Vienna Meeting and as contained in Annex XI
of the Concluding Document of the Meeting, are of importance to
all participating States. In order to follow and build upon
those practices at forthcoming CSCE meetings of the Conference
on the Human Dimension, the participating States agree that the
following practices of openness and access should be respected:

-- free movement by members of interested non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) in the Conference premises, except for the
areas restricted to delegations and to the services of the
Executive Secretariat. Accordingly, badges will be issued to
them, at their request, by the Executive Secretariat;

-- unimpeded contacts between members of interested NGOs and
delegates, as well as with accredited representatives of the

-- access to official documents of the conference in all the
working languages and also to any document that delegates might
wish to communicate to members of interested NGOs;

-- the opportunity for members of interested NGOs to transmit
to delegates communications relating to the human dimension of
the CSCE. Mailboxes for each delegation will be accessible to
them for this purpose;

-- free access for delegates to all documents emanating from
interested NGOs and addressed to the Executive Secretariat for
the information of the Conference. Accordingly, the Executive
Secretariat will make available to delegates a regularly updated
collection of such documents.

They further undertake to guarantee to representatives of the

-- free movement in the Conference premises, except for the
areas restricted to delegations and to the services of the
Executive Secretariat. Accordingly, badges will be issued to
them by the Executive Secretariat upon presentation of the
requisite credentials;

-- unimpeded contacts with delegates and with members of
interested NGOs;

-- access to official documents of the Conference in all the
working languages.

The Chairman notes further that this statement will be an Annex
to the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting and will be published
with it.

Copenhagen, 29 June 1990

Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe - Final Act

Co-operation in Humanitarian and Other Fields

1. Human Contacts

The participating States (.....) express their intention now to
proceed to the implementation of the following:

They confirm that religious faiths, institutions and
organizations, practising within the constitutional framework of
the participating States, and their representatives can, in the
field of their activities, have contacts and meetings among
themselves and exchange information.

(h) Expansion of Contacts

By way of further developing contacts among governmental
institutions and non-governmental organizations and associations,
including women's organizations, the participating States will
facilitate the convening of meetings as well as travel by
delegations, groups and individuals.

3. Co-operation and Exchanges in the Field of Culture

Extension of Relations

To expand and improve at the various levels co-operation and
links in the filed of culture, in particular by:

-- concluding, where appropriate, agreements on a bilateral or
multilateral basis, providing for the extension of relations
among competent State institutions and non-governmental
organizations in the field of culture, as well as among people
engaged in cultural activities, taking into account the need both
for flexibility and the fullest possible use of existing
agreements, and bearing in mind that agreements and also other
arrangements constitute important means of developing cultural
co-operation and exchanges;

-- contributing to the development of direct communication and
co-operation among relevant State institutions and
non-governmental organizations including, where necessary, such
communication and co-operation carried out on the basis of
special agreements and arrangements;

Helsinki, 1 August 1975


Human Dimension Seminars

1. Tolerance (Warsaw, 16-20 November 1992) - 17

2. Migration, including Refugees and Displaced Persons
(Warsaw, 20-23 April 1993) - 27

3. Case Studies on National Minorities Issues: Positive Results
(Warsaw, 24-28 May 1993) - 40

4. Free Media (Warsaw, 2-5 November 1993) - 39

5. Migrant Workers (Warsaw, 21-25 March 1994) - 18

6. Local Democracy (Warsaw, 16-20 May 1994) - 25

7. Roma in the CSCE Region (Warsaw, 20-23 September 1994) - 71

8. Buidling Blocks for Civic Society: Freedom of Association
and NGOs (Warsaw, 4-7 April 1995) - 123

Regional Seminars

1. Human Dimension Issues in Central Asia (Almaty, 20-22 April
1994) - 26

Implementation Meetings

1. Implementation Meeting on Human Dimension Issues (Warsaw,
27 September - 15 October 1993) - 58

Other Seminars

1. CSCE Seminar on Early Warning and Preventive Diplomacy
(Warsaw, 19-21 January 1994) - 19

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Address: Kaerntner Ring 5-7, A-1010 Vienna, Austria
Tel: (++431) 514 36/0 Fax: (++431) 514 36/99

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