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The OSCE: Soft Security for a Hard World

Competing Theories for Understanding the OSCE

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Roberto Dominguez

This book explores why the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) remains a largely unknown entity as far as the general public are concerned, despite its significant day-to-day activity not only on the diplomatic front, but also via its 16 field operations.
While the main achievement of its predecessor, the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), was to bridge the East-West divide in Europe during the Cold War, the CSCE was transformed into the OSCE in 1995 to respond to the various challenges generated by the emergence of a multipolar world. Ever since, the OSCE has been involved in diplomacy, empowered with instruments of persuasion rather than coercion. Is the OSCE a significant regional organization in dealing with international security? Has the OSCE been able to reinvent itself to face the post-Cold War world? What type of security is the OSCE providing to its member states? This book provides a variety of answers based on different theoretical perspectives and invites the reader to reflect on the nature of soft power within international relations.
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Chapter 9: Conclusion: Interpreting the OSCE

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CHAPTER 9

Conclusion: Interpreting the OSCE

Roberto DOMINGUEZ

Introduction

The preceding chapters have evaluated the contributions of the OSCE to the stability and the security of its members from a variety of theoretical perspectives. The approach adopted in this book brings the methodological problem between the object and the subject, or between the historical facts and their interpretation, to the forefront of the scholarly debate. The strength of this organization has been its flexibility and adaptation to the evolving nature of security challenges; its weaknesses stem from the lingering ideological confrontations between Russia and the United States/Western Europe that have hampered the provision of instruments to improve the effectiveness of the OSCE, as well as competition with other regional organizations. In this regard, how can we provide a comprehensive assessment of the OSCE from a scholarly perspective?

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