DEMOCRATIC CIVILIAN CONTROL IN THE WORLD

Which norms of democratic civilian control are established by the OSCE?

In 1994, the OSCE adopted the Code of Conduct on Military-Political Aspects, which introduces a universal mechanism for democratic control over the armed forces. The Code was the first international document to codify the principles of relations between civil society and the military, and to introduce the main approaches to democratic control over the armed forces.

The main advantage of the Code is the availability of clear regulatory answers to key questions in the field of democratic control – who, why, and how should it be implemented. In addition, the document sets out common approaches to the practical implementation of democratic control, which do not depend on peculiarities of military organisation in different countries:

  • A democratically-elected civil government should have priority over military leadership
  • The armed forces should be subordinated to the norms and requirements of International Humanitarian Law
  • Respect towards human rights and fundamental freedoms should be established for personnel of security and defence sector agencies
  • Regulations on the employment of armed forces in support of national security
Which norms of democratic civilian control are established by the OSCE?
Democratic control over the armed forces provided under this Code should be based on the following norms:
  • Support of military capabilities that meet the requirements for the individual and collective security of citizens
  • Use of democratic procedures to identify the necessary military capabilities
  • Compliance with international agreements and legislation while deploying the armed forces on the territory of foreign states
  • Legislative control over military expenditures
  • Integration of the armed forces into civil society
  • Political neutrality of the armed forces
  • Respect for human rights and freedoms in the process of manning
  • Legally established rights and freedoms of military personnel and their protection
  • Personal responsibility of military personnel in accordance with national and international law
According to Article 38 of the Code, every OSCE country implements the Code individually. In order to simplify this process, the OSCE has established a number of tools. These include annual debates on the implementation of the Code as well as the annual exchange of information. The latter takes the form of a questionnaire containing a number of questions on politico-military relations, which are completed by OSCE member-nations every year. It allows the OSCE to monitor the implementation progress and the participants – to exchange their experience and to build a system of democratic control in accordance with best international practices.

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