Current Projects

Confidence-Building Measures in the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension

Much has been written in the past as well as more recently on the role of the OSCE and the potential of its second (economic) dimension in re-building trust and cooperation across borders. Yet, very little systematic knowledge exists on what actually works in terms of building confidence between member states. This lack of knowledge, in turn, inhibits the capacity for evidence-based policy making of the OSCE and its member states when it comes to using economic and environmental CBMs to stabilize and improve relations between member states. The Network seeks to remedy this by examining comparatively past experiences with economic and environmental confidence building measures and how lessons can be learned from this experience to inform future OSCE practice, including the possibility of setting up a specific “mechanism” for bilateral and/or multilateral consultation on economic and environmental issues that raise concern of individual participating states and may affect their interests.

The main question that the Network, therefore, seeks to address is this: How can any economic and environmental confidence building measures "fit" into the current context of instability in the OSCE region and beyond where Russia's so-called near abroad and EU's Eastern Neighborhood overlap and have become political and economic "battlefields" of new trade regimes—the Eurasian Economic Union and the DCFTAs—that play out against the background of a number of conflict situations, such as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine?

We make no assumption that economic and environmental connectivity by default can achieve greater security and stability. Rather, we acknowledge that economic and environmental confidence building has, albeit unevenly, been conducted in the past. However, it is not clear what its concrete effects have been, whether it has contributed to enhanced confidence between OSCE member states, whether any positive spill-over into other areas of confidence-building has been achieved, and/or whether there have been any sustainable legacy effects. We equally lack systematic knowledge on how negotiations over how economic and environmental CBMs are best initiated and by whom, on how they can be successfully concluded, and on how their agreements can be implemented and sustained. Put differently, we have no sound basis of evidence upon which we can assess the merit, or otherwise, of the creation of a specific mechanism for economic and environmental confidence building to institutionalize and formalize hitherto disparate and ad hoc efforts.

The project envisions commissioning ten papers contributed by Network institutions and current and former policy practitioners. These should take the form of single and comparative case studies focused broadly on fostering economic and environmental connectivity as a means of confidence building (including trade, transport, communication, energy, environment, banking, insurance, etc.) within and beyond the OSCE region. Papers should also focus on how states have used such activities to raise concerns and engage in the joint search for cooperative solutions. 

The project is led by Prof. Stefan Wolff, University of Birmingham, and Ambassador Philip Remler, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as lead drafter. The first brainstorming workshop under this project was conducted at the University of Birmingham, 10 – 11 July 2017.

The Road to the Charter of Paris: Historical Narratives and Lessons for the OSCE Today

In its report "Back to Diplomacy", the OSCE Panel of Eminent Persons (PEP) in late 2015 encouraged a research project on the different narratives and the common history after 1990, bringing together scholars from different countries and aiming to set out more systematically the radically divergent views of the past and how and why they developed. Recent developments have made clear that ghosts from the past still cast a negative shadow on current political dialogue in the OSCE area. In addition to tensions arising from the present, diametrically opposed narratives on the evolution of the European security order after 1990 prevent a common view on the causes and origins of today’s problems between Russia and the West.

This project focuses on the very starting point of the divergence. It concentrates on the crucial period of little over a year, beginning with the dramatic events in Central and Eastern Europe in the summer of 1989 and leading up to the Charter of Paris for a New Europe in November 1990. Those months not only changed the course of Europe’s history at the time: the interpretations and narratives of that past still continue to shape the world today. The temporal focus of the project is intentionally narrow. Zooming in exclusively on the events of 1989-90 will allow the project to benefit from a more comprehensive archival access to original documents which have recently been or are about to be declassified. It also helps in structuring the debate around the core topic: the road to the Paris Charter is of fundamental importance for the European security order that is currently contested.

The project consists of two workshops and a report. The first workshop will bring together about 10 leading contemporary historians with up to 10 high-level decision-makers and advisors involved in the events in 1990. It will be hosted by ifri (Barbara Kunz) in Paris on 5 September 2017. Instead of striving for the impossibly elusive goal of a consensus narrative, the workshop seeks to facilitate a more informed debate on the sources of the different narratives that undeniably exist. We are happy that we could already secure the participation of key negotiators and delegation leaders of the Paris Charter, including John Maresca and William Hill (US), Anatolii Adamishin (Russia), Adam Daniel Rotfeld and Jerzy Nowak (Poland), Marianne von Grünigen (Switzerland), Markku Reimaa (Finland), Wilhelm Höynck (Germany), and Pierre Morel (France). We are currently awaiting the responses from eyewitnesses that would bring in the perspectives of Austria, Italy, and Sweden. 

The project is led by Christian Nünlist (Center for Security Studies, ETH Zürich) and Juhana Aunesluoma (University of Helsinki).