OSCE missions also work with local governments to improve their protection of human rights and human dimension activities. When problems are uncovered, the OSCE mission will alert the relevant governmental unit about the problem and seek immediate relief at that level.
While performing their human dimension role, mission members must be able to distinguish between:
- intentional violations of human rights perpetrated by governmental authorities
- frequent neglect or abuse of human rights due to bureaucratic ineptitude or indifference
While both may represent some degree of a human rights violation, the methods to solve the problems may be different, i.e., political dialogue for the former case or training for the latter case.
The OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the largest of the OSCE’s field missions, has municipal teams working in Kosovo’s 33 municipalities. The municipalities are primary point of contact residents have with their governmental institutions. The municipalities provide residents with the largest portion of governmental services and through them residents exercise their civic rights and participate in the municipal decision making processes.
These teams monitor the work of municipalities to help them provide good governance and uphold human rights principles. Special attention is paid to the needs of non-majority communities and the return process. Municipal monitors also assist municipal legislators with drafting statutes and regulations.
The OSCE teams maintain daily contact with municipal institutions and the population. They observe the daily work of municipalities, including the sessions of the municipal assemblies and their committees, and the work of the executive, and provide on-site advice and mentoring on how to improve operations. Municipal monitoring includes analyzing, reporting and when recommending remedial action for observed shortcomings in the work of authorities. In some cases it can also include the implementation of small scale projects.
Members of the OSCE municipal team covering Prishtine/Pristina receive a certificate of appreciation for financing the renovation of the Centre for Co-operation and Integration ‘Fidan Lahu’, Fushe, Kosove/Kosovo Polje, 11 June 2008. (OSCE/Hasan Sopa)
Municipal monitors observe how municipalities follow hiring procedures, properly use official languages, protect property rights and cultural heritages, ensure freedom of movement, and provide access to public services by all residents. The Mission also provides advice on how to better plan municipal budgets, increase transparency and include the public in decision-making, to help improve the quality of services and the responsiveness of municipalities to their inhabitants.