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The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe are important regional organisations in the field of human rights.


The OSCE is a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, post-conflict reconstruction and crisis management at the regional level, and its unique approach to security is of vital importance for human rights. The approach is comprehensive, with human rights playing an important part. Human rights – which pervade all the three dimensions of the organisation – are central in the third, so-called human, dimension of OSCE. The OSCE participating states have pledged to honour their commitments, and are backed in their implementation by various OSCE institutions. The OSCE's most important institution in the sphere of human rights is the independent  OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which provides support, assistance and expertise to participating states and civil society to promote democracy, the rule of law, human rights and tolerance and non-discrimination; it also observes elections, reviews legislation and advises governments on how to develop and sustain democratic institutions.


The Council of Europe, the main objective of which is the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, is the oldest pan-European international organisation. Its member states have undertaken to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.  The Council of Europe adopts important legally binding documents on human rights, and the  European Court of Human Rights plays a vital role in this process. The Court operates under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has been in force since 1953 (signed in 1950), and its protocols. The importance of human rights for the Council of Europe is reflected in the independent political body, the Commissioner for Human Rights. The institution of the Commissioner was established in 1999, and ensures respect for, and the application of, human rights in the Member States.