CSCE becomes the OSCE

With the disintegration of the Warsaw Treaty Organization following the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, the CSCE began a rapid process of transformation to respond to the new post-Cold War security situation. The creation of a genuine Transatlantic system of “cooperative security” appeared possible.

The CSCE took on new responsibilities and challenges in this period of transition characterized by institutionalization, strengthening of operational capabilities, development of field activities, and further elaboration of commitments and principles.

Charter of Paris

Paris, 1990

One of OSCE’s fundamental documents, the Charter of Paris, was signed on 21 November 1990 at the Second CSCE Summit. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France/Frédéric de la Mure)

One of OSCE’s fundamental documents, the Charter of Paris, was signed on 21 November 1990 at the Second CSCE Summit. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France/Frédéric de la Mure)

The Charter of Paris, signed by the Heads of State from all CSCE participating states, represented the first high-level multilateral instrument to reflect the fall of the communist bloc and the end of the Cold War. In its preamble, the Paris Charter announced the opening of a new era for European security based on a reaffirmation of the Helsinki Principles.

After the Charter of Paris, the CSCE began to take on features of an established international organization, rather than consisting of a series of ad hoc meetings about security issues.

The Paris meeting established the following structures for the CSCE:

  • Secretariat
  • Conflict Prevention Centre
  • Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (originally the Office of Free Elections)
  • Parliamentary Assembly
Formal name change

The Budapest Summit formally changed the name of the CSCE to OSCE (effective Jan. 1, 1995), in recognition of the institutionalization that had taken place.