Permanent Council


The Permanent Council (PC) is the main decision-making body of the OSCE for regular political consultations and for governing the day to day work of the OSCE between the MC meetings. It is composed of representatives at the level of ambassadors from all participating States to the OSCE.


The flags of tThe OSCE in front of the Hofburg in Vienna, May 2020. (Ruth Freedom Pojman)

The flags of the OSCE in front of the Hofburg in Vienna, May 2020. (Ruth Freedom Pojman)

The Permanent Council meets weekly throughout the year at the Hofburg’s Congress Centre in Vienna Austria to engage in the day-to-day direction of OSCE affairs. All PC decisions are made by consensus. Each Thursday the Ambassadors to the OSCE meet in the Neurersaal of this former Habsburg palace and sit around a large table as equals to air concerns, to debate complex challenges and to work out differences, including through informal discussions on the margins of meetings, and in the Hofburg’s second floor cafeteria. Their work is the political heart of the organization.


Activities


Permanent Council activities include:


  • Making decisions on the operation of the OSCE, its institutions and its Field Operations (FOs)

  • Hearing reports from senior officials and invited guests on matters of concern to the OSCE

  • Developing responses to emergency and ongoing situations

  • Engaging in debate, dialogue, and discussion on issues before the OSCE


The OSCE relies on a permanent process of consultation and of dialogue between its participating States to raise and address current issues in a timely way before they escalate further. 


Senior officials from capitals may reinforce the PC on special occasions, and then it is referred to as the Reinforced Permanent Council. The Permanent Council is chaired by a permanent representative of the current Chair-in-Office.


Function


The Permanent Council serves an important function as a catalyst for dialogue among the participating States. It provides an opportunity to exchange views and voice criticisms, serves as an instrument of early warning and allows smaller states to make their opinions known to major players. Increasingly, spontaneous dialogue tends to take place during advance informal consultations, on the “margins” of the formal meetings, or in the various subsidiary bodies that prepare plenary sessions. 


The PC, the other decision-making meetings, as well as many other official events, are conducted in the six official languages of the OSCE: English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish, with simultaneous translation by professional interpreters.