OSCE and the UN: 30 Years of Collaboration and Peacebuilding

Politically Speaking
4 min readJun 27


From peace processes in Georgia and Moldova to elections in Kyrgyzstan, joint efforts between the two international bodies have demonstrated the power of cooperation.

Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo addresses the OSCE, May 2022. Photo Credit: Permanent Mission of the Republic of Poland to the OSCE in Vienna

Collaboration between the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has been instrumental in fostering peace and stability across Europe and Eurasia for over three decades. The 1993 Framework for Co-operation and Co-ordination laid a foundation for the two organizations to harness their respective strengths and mandates to tackle pressing global challenges. The Framework has been reinforced by a host of agreements, which have cemented high-level political collaboration and ensured co-operation on the ground.

In a recent article, Helga Maria Schmid, the Secretary General of the OSCE, referred to the UN and the OSCE as “the only multilateral space where all actors responsible for broader European security still sit at the same table.” She stated that “the UN’s role — including in the context of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in which Secretary-General Guterres has been so instrumental — is crucial in so many ways. And the more we can do to complement each other’s efforts, the better off we all are.”

Helga Maria Schmid, the Secretary-General of the OSCE. Photo credit: OSCE

The UN and the OSCE have a long history of collaborative work on conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy, mediation as well as crisis management. Throughout the late 1990s they worked together in South-East Europe, assisting regional efforts to establish stability and post-conflict recovery and reconciliation. Ongoing efforts in supporting Georgia’s peace processes include co-chairing, with the European Union, the Geneva International Discussions as a platform for dialogue between parties on security and humanitarian issues. In Kyrgyzstan, again with the European Union, they co-operated in addressing the aftermath of inter-ethnic violence in 2010.

Co-operation has also extended to support electoral processes across the OSCE region. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the UN Department for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs share expertise, deploy election observers, and provide technical assistance to ensure free and fair elections.

In Ukraine, from 2014 until the full-scale Russian invasion of February 2022, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, working alongside the UN, played a pivotal role in monitoring the situation on the ground and reporting ceasefire violations, supporting the delivery of humanitarian assistance and facilitating the repairs of critical infrastructure in order to respond to the needs of the civilian population.

Briefing the Security Council on 14 March 2022, Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo underlined the importance of UN-OSCE co-operation, stressing that, “The war in Ukraine is the most severe test the OSCE and related regional frameworks have faced since their creation.” The conflict, she said, “vividly illustrates the importance of mechanisms to maintain and strengthen European and international peace and security.”

Speaking at the OSCE Permanent Council on 13 May 2022, DiCarlo underscored that regional organizations like the OSCE are crucial partners in preventing and resolving conflict and sustaining peace. She further noted that “our shared commitment to preventive diplomacy, mediation, peacebuilding and the women, peace and security agenda informs the longstanding partnership between our organizations.”Looking ahead, the UN and OSCE will continue to engage further and nurture this important partnership, including in the framework of the New Agenda for Peace. Complementing the UN’s global mandate, the OSCE offers a regional framework for peace and security — one that is comprehensive, inclusive, principled and adaptable.

Both organizations continue to explore expanding avenues for collaboration, mobilising the OSCE’s flexibility and regional influence, and the UN’s expertise and resources to find solutions to common challenges. This includes targeting transnational threats such as organized crime, preventing and combatting violent extremism that leads to radicalization, ensuring sustainable transboundary water resource management, combatting trafficking in human beings, and much more.

Whilst addressing the Security Council on 4 May 2023, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia Bujar Osmani, underlined that “As security challenges continue to evolve, the nature of OSCE co-operation with the UN must evolve as well. We must become more pragmatic and action oriented. In the 30 years that have elapsed, the UN and the OSCE have built a significant relationship and co-ordinated very closely in operational terms. We need to tighten those relations even more now.”

Bujar Osmani, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, briefs the Security Council. UN Photo 4 May 2023 Eskinder Debebe.

Born out of the Cold War, the OSCE has been at the center of efforts to bring its unique membership, spanning from Vancouver to Vladivostok, around one overarching goal: to resolve differences peacefully. Aligned with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, its work alongside the UN over the coming decades will be critical in addressing current and future challenges to European peace and stability.




Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs