The OSCE chair is assumed at yearly intervals by one member state which then plays a central role in managing the Organization’s work and in its external representation. The foreign minister of the country holding the chair holds the office of Chairman-in-Office (CiO). The fact that decision-making within the OSCE requires a consensus among all 57 participating states represents a particular diplomatic challenge. In 2016 Germany is the acting CiO, in close cooperation with Serbia, which was the CiO in 2015, and Austria, which will chair the organisation in 2017. In 2000 Austria chaired the OSCE already.
The OSCE Secretariat, under the direction of the Secretary General, is the organisational backbone and provides support for the Chair's activities. It is based in Vienna, assisted by an office in Prague.
Besides, the OSCE is equipped with a number of instruments for the fulfilment of its tasks. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), headed since 2014 by Michael Link (from Germany), is located in Warsaw and seeks to promote democratic elections, particularly by election monitoring, and provides practical support aimed at strengthening democratic institutions under the rule of law and fostering civil society structures.
The Office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities (since 2013 Astrid Thors) is located in The Hague and seeks to identify and resolve ethnic tensions at the earliest possible stage. The office of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, based in Vienna and since 2010 held by Dunja Mijatovic (from Bosnia-Herzegovina) was established to monitor compliance with this important fundamental right.
A central instrument for conflict prevention, civil crisis management and consolidation of peace are the Long Term Missions. The OSCE has established 14 such field activities, involving approximately 2000 international and local staff members Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Central Asia. The CiO may appoint Personal Representatives who use their political weight to assist in conflict management in the event of an imminent crisis.
The organisation can also establish ad-hoc missions, as it is currently the case with the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, whose aim is to stabilise the situation with the presence and comprehensive reporting of some 600 monitors.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE. The primary task of the 323-member Assembly is to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue, an important aspect of the overall effort to meet the challenges of democracy throughout the OSCE area. The Austrian Member of Parliament Muttonen is one of its Vice Presidents.
The majority of the international experts active in OSCE field missions are seconded to the OSCE by participating states. Information on current job vacancies in OSCE field missions and details of the application procedure can be accessed online.