Uniqueness of CSCE

There are a number of things that made the CSCE unique in comparison to other organizations.

Wide participation

In an era characterized by bloc-to-bloc confrontation, the CSCE had wide participation and all states participating in the Conference did so as “sovereign and independent states and in conditions of full equality.”

Comprehensive view

At a time when most negotiations and security organizations adopted a piecemeal approach to security, the CSCE endorsed a comprehensive view. The linkage between different elements of security would prove to be one of the CSCE’s greatest assets.

Decisions by consensus

Decisions of the Conference were taken by consensus, thus often making the decision-making process as important as the decisions themselves.


CSCE decisions were politically rather than legally binding, giving the Conference considerable flexibility. This meant that its decisions did not risk getting tied up in the sort of lengthy debates that often occur during the ratification of legal instruments, which could delay implementation of CSCE decisions by years, when action was required in weeks, days, or even hours.

No institutional structures

Prior to 1990, the CSCE had no institutional structures.  This enabled the CSCE to adapt rapidly and effectively to the changing international environment that was evolving.