Good offices and mediation
The most frequent approach utilized by OSCE field missions as been to provide “good offices” and other forms of third party intervention to assist parties to a dispute in reaching agreement. OSCE mission staff often serve as go-betweens or mediators between disputing parties.
Examples of the Mission’s mediation work include brokering a deal in 2003 for the full withdrawal by the Moldovan and Transdniestrian military of armoured vehicles held by their peacekeeping forces inside the Security Zone. OSCE Mission members observed and verified the withdrawal. The Mission also helped forge agreement in 2006 on allowing Moldovan farmers free access to their land on the Transdniestrian-controlled side. (OSCE)
OSCE mission staff have served as mediators between the government of Moldova and the breakaway region of Transdniestria.
OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya
Although the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya was closed in 2003, it is worth reviewing because it was the only case in which the OSCE played an active role to broker a ceasefire during an ongoing war between Chechnya and the Russian Federation in 1994-1996.
Its mandate was to “promote the peaceful resolution of the crisis and the stabilization of the situation in the Chechen Republic in conformity with the principle of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and in accordance with OSCE principles.”
In January 1996, the HoM of the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya, Ambassador Tim Guldimann of Switzerland, assumed an activist role as a mediator between the parties to the conflict. He engaged in “shuttle diplomacy” and mediated a ceasefire in 1996 that brought the first war there to an end. After successfully organizing elections in Chechnya and assisting a new regional government as it took office, the OSCE was unable to take the steps necessary to prevent a second attack on Chechnya in 1999 by Russian forces, resulting in a renewed war that has continued in Chechnya to this day, though the level of fighting has diminished substantially in recent years and is mostly confined to remote areas. The Russian Federation refused to support the extension of the mission beyond 2003, when it was completely closed down.