The Permanent Council (PC) meets weekly throughout the year at the Hofburg Palace’s Congress Centre in Vienna to engage in the regular direction of OSCE affairs. It is composed of representatives at the level of ambassadors from all participating States to the OSCE. 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.
A delegate listens to simultaneous interpretation during a regular session of the OSCE's Permanent Council, which meets weekly in Vienna, 29 November 2012. (OSCE/Curtis Budden)
Permanent Council activities include:
- Making decisions on the operation of the OSCE, its institutions, and its field missions
- Defining mission mandates
- 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 Permanent Council has 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.