What is the OSCE?
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is a security organisation of 55 participating states. It is the key instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation covering a geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostock.
The OSCE's approach to security is comprehensive and co-operative. It deals with a wide range of security issues, including arms control, preventative diplomacy, confidence and security building measures, human rights, election monitoring and environmental security. These attributes make the OSCE a unique organisation.
Read more about OSCE on the FCO website.
The OSCE currently runs 19 Missions and Field Operations. In general, OSCE field activities serve to facilitate the political processes intended to prevent or settle conflicts, and to report on developments. The mandates, composition and operation of missions vary considerably. However, human rights, democratisation, elections and the rule of law are core activities. All missions co-operate closely with international and non-government organisations.
The Mission to Kosovo is the OSCE's largest field operation, with over 500 international staff. Since July 1999 it has played a leading role in strengthening institutions, democracy and human rights within the framework of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK).
There are also large missions in Croatia and Bosnia. Smaller missions operate in FRY, Georgia, FYROM and Ukraine. There is an OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya, a Presence in Albania, an Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus, the Central Asia Liaison Office in Uzbekistan and OSCE Offices in Almaty, Ashgabat, Baku, Bishkek, and Yerevan.
Almost 1200 international staff work for various OSCE Missions and Field Offices, supported by local employees. The majority of these international staff are seconded by their respective Governments. Each OSCE member state contributes towards the costs and the staffing. The UK pays 9 per cent of the OSCE's core costs, 10.34 per cent of the costs of large missions and provides approximately 10 per cent (over 100) of the OSCE's staff in the field.
The FCO maintains a database of professional British nationals who are eligible for, and interested in, secondment to an OSCE mission. We are looking for experts in:
- Democratisation (including governance and civil administration, NGO and civil society development, public administration training).
- Elections (including election law specialists, registration co-ordinators and operations experts).
- Field Operations and Management (including logistics experts, monitors and field office co-ordinators).
- Human Rights (including human rights officers, trainers and analysts).
- Media Development (including media freedom and analysis specialists, radio, TV and print media development specialists).
- Political Affairs (including political party development and political analysis).
- Rule of Law (including legal advisors, judicial process and penal system experts, and legislation specialists).
- Military Affairs (including monitoring/liaison officers)
Be warned: life on OSCE Missions can be unpredictable. The work is very fulfilling, but often exhausting. Working and living conditions can be very rudimentary and sometimes volatile; secondees must be able to thrive in an international team. Considerable patience, flexibility and resilience are required.
Applicants must have appropriate qualifications and at least 5 years professional experience in a relevant discipline including 3 years in an international context. Applicants must be physically and mentally fit and have a full Driving Licence. The FCO only seconds British citizens who have been citizens and resident in the UK for at least 5 years. Please ensure that you satisfy these criteria before you apply.
How to apply
Please complete the application form online and consult the guidance notes provided by the OSCE. On page 8 of the form, please enter email@example.com for the email address of the designated authority, and submit by clicking on the 'Email to:' link.
Please note that the application form has been converted into a Portable Document Format (pdf) file. Adobe Acrobat Reader version 5 or higher is required to open, view and print these files. The software may be downloaded free of charge from the Adobe website.
What happens next?
Your application will be reviewed by the FCO's OSCE Operations Section. If you have the appropriate qualifications, you will be invited to the FCO in London for an interview. You will be asked to confirm your attendance at a mutually convenient time, to send in a copy of the photograph page of your passport, and to provide certain other details about your background. The 30-40 minute interview will cover your experience, your personal qualities, your motivation and the contribution you think you can make to the OSCE. After the interview, the FCO may take up references. Operations Section will inform you of the outcome.
As part of the selection process for a secondment, candidates who pass the interview will be expected to attend a 7-day residential training programme. The course will include classroom and outdoor modules (such as Human Rights, Mine Awareness, Field Operations). Candidates' performance will be assessed. (Further mission-specific training is given by the OSCE after appointment).
If you pass, you will be listed as available for secondment. Operations Section will then consider you for positions with an OSCE mission, when (and if) a suitable vacancy arises. You will be required to undergo a thorough medical at the FCO before appointment.
The OSCE Secretariat in Vienna regularly publishes vacancy notices. If a vacancy (which the FCO wishes to fill) matches your profile, Operations Section will contact you to discuss the opportunity. If you confirm your interest, you will be nominated. The OSCE Secretariat will then consider your application against candidates from other OSCE member states. After consulting the relevant Mission, the Secretariat selects, informing the FCO of its decision. You will then be advised. The process can take some time so patience will be required.
NB. Your application form will (except for FCO-specific jobs) be forwarded to the OSCE Secretariat. So it is vital that all relevant experience and qualifications are included, and that the details are entered in a clear, concise and legible manner. It is also possible that your expertise may be of interest to other international organisations, so you should say if you do not want your details passed on.
On appointment, the FCO will second you to the OSCE. This means that you are paid by the FCO but you work for the OSCE. The standard contract length is 6 months; contracts may be renewed subject to the needs of the Mission. The generous remuneration package reflects the responsibilities of the post.
The FCO is an equal opportunities employer. Applications are welcomed from suitably qualified individuals irrespective of gender, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, race, colour, ethnic or national origin. All applications will be treated on merit.
Contracted positions within the OSCE Secretariat and OSCE Missions
In addition to secondments, the OSCE also directly recruits personnel to work in its HQ or in the missions. Such positions are advertised by the Secretariat in Vienna. You do not need FCO support in order to apply for these posts. An up-to-date list of vacancies can be found on the OSCE website.