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SECTION II

Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)


What is the OSCE?

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is the successor to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which was created in the early 1970s. From 1975 to 1990, the CSCE served as a forum between East and West on peaceful settlement of disputes, protection of the global environment, and encouragement of emerging democracies. With the change in world politics, the CSCE changed its name to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1990. Today, the OSCE is composed of 54 participating states, including the United States, Canada, and all the countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union. Today, the priorities of the OSCE are:

  • Consolidate common values and build civil societies,
  • Prevent local conflicts, restore stability and bring peace to war-torn areas,
  • Overcome real and perceived security deficits and avoid creation of hostilities by promoting a cooperative system of security.

In response to the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the OSCE established a Mission in BiH on 8 December 1995.

OSCE Election Goals:

  • Establish a politically neutral environment.

  • Protect and enforce the right to vote in secret without fear and intimidation.

  • Ensure freedom of expression and of the press. No limited access to media.

  • Allow and encourage freedom of association.

  • Ensure freedom of movement.

  • Ensure the will of the people is the basis of governmental authority.

  • Ensure all seats in at least one chamber of government are freely contested in a popular vote.

  • Ensure universal and equal suffrage to all citizens.

  • Protect the right of citizens to seek office without discrimination.

  • Protect the rights of individuals and groups to establish political parties in full freedom and with necessary legal guarantees.

  • Ensure that candidates legally elected are duly installed in office and permitted to remain there until the term of the mandate.

  • Invite observers to be present at elections.

What is the Provisional Election Commission (PEC)?

Ambassador Frowick, the Head of the OSCE Mission in BiH was also the Chairman of the PEC. The PEC was established under the GFAP, Annex 3, Article III. The PEC was composed of one representative from Bosnia-Herzegovina, one from Republika Srpska, one from the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and four representatives from the international community. The PEC had the authority to adopt electoral rules and regulations regarding:

  • Political parties and independent candidate registration,
  • Candidates' and voters' eligibility,
  • Domestic and international election observers roles,
  • Electoral campaigning,
  • Election results establishment, publication and certification.

The PEC was the principal mechanism for establishing electoral procedures. For example, the PEC ruled that special police and military personnel would vote by absentee ballots in polling stations near their barracks on 13 September 1996. The PEC also created special registration and voting provisions for those in hospitals and prisons. The PEC was the final arbitrator in all election matters and could over-rule the LECs. In short, the PEC was the final decisionmaking body for the election process in BiH.

What are Local Election Commissions (LECs)?

The Local Election Commissions (LECs) were the organizations on the ground responsible for the conduct of the elections. Each LEC appointed a polling station committee, composed of a Chairman and seven Committee Members. The Commission Members consisted of one line controller/ink controller, two identification officers, one ink applicator, two ballot issuers, one ballot box controller, and the Chairman. There was no requirement for an LEC to be composed of a set number of Serbs, Croats or Muslims. In the MND-N AO, there were approximately 50 LECs. Responsibilities of the LEC included:

  • Election Commissions shall be responsible for the conduct of the elections under the supervision of the OSCE and the PEC and execute other actions as instructed by the PEC.

  • Election Commissions, in consultation with the OSCE and PEC, shall provide geographic descriptions of the areas to be covered by polling stations and select polling stations.

  • Election Commissions shall provide space, furniture, utilities, etc., for:
      a) Registration offices;
      b) Polling stations;
      c) Absentee voting polling stations;
      d) Counting Centers; and
      e) Training.

  • Election Commissions shall provide staff for the:
      a) Registration process;
      b) Voting (Polling Station Commissions);
      c) Absentee voting; and
      d) Counting.

  • The Election Commissions, under supervision of the OSCE and the PEC, shall provide transport and security for materials from OSCE Regional Centers and Field Offices to and from Municipalities and to and from Polling Stations (for voting materials) including:
      a) Provisional Voters' Lists and application forms;
      b) Official Voters' List;
      c) Voting materials (ballot boxes, voting screens, etc.);
      d) Ballots (for the absentee and for election day);
      e) Absentee ballot boxes; and
      f) Ballot boxes (to counting centers).

  • The Election Commissions, under supervision of the OSCE and PEC, shall provide warehousing for election materials and supplies as needed.

  • The Election Commissions shall attend meetings and training sessions presented by OSCE trainers for:
      a) Registration process;
      b) Absentee voting process; and
      c) Voting process.

  • Election Commissions shall keep applicable records.

  • Election Commissions shall assist with the distribution of election information and voter education materials.

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