The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is an independent U.S. Government agency created in 1976 to monitor and encourage compliance with the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE commitments.
The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine members from the U.S. House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce. The positions of Chair and Co-Chair are shared by the House and Senate and rotate every two years, when a new Congress convenes. A professional staff assists the Commissioners in their work.
The Commission contributes to the formulation of U.S. policy on the OSCE and takes part in its execution, including through Member and staff participation on U.S. Delegations to OSCE meetings and in certain OSCE bodies. Members of the Commission have regular contact with parliamentarians, government officials, NGOs, and private individuals from other OSCE participating States.
The Commission convenes public hearings and briefings with expert witnesses on OSCE-related issues; issues public reports concerning implementation of OSCE commitments in participating States; and organizes official delegations to participating States and OSCE meetings to address and assess democratic, economic, security and human rights developments firsthand.
*By clicking on the staff members' name an employee biography will appear*
CSCE :: About the Helsinki Process
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is engaged in standard setting in fields including military security, economic and environmental cooperation, and human rights and humanitarian concerns. In addition, the OSCE undertakes a variety of preventive diplomacy initiatives designed to prevent, manage and resolve conflict within and among the participating States.
The OSCE has its main office in Vienna, Austria, where weekly meetings of the Permanent Council are held. In addition, specialized seminars and meetings are convened in various locations and periodic consultations among Senior Officials, Ministers and Heads of State or Government are held.
Selected OSCE Institutions and Structure
Summits - Heads of State or Government of the OSCE States set priorities and provide orientation at the highest level.
- Heads of State or Government of the OSCE States set priorities and provide orientation at the highest level.
Review Conferences - review implementation of all OSCE commitments.
The Ministerial Council - Foreign Ministers of the OSCE States act as the central decision-making and governing body of the OSCE activities.
The Senior Council - responsible for the overview, management and coordination of the OSCE activities.
The Permanent Council - responsible for the day-to-day operation of the OSCE.
The Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) - negotiates and consults on concrete measures aimed at strengthening security and stability throughout Europe.
The Chairman-in-Office (CiO) - vested with overall responsibility for executive action and coordination of current OSCE activities.
The Secretary General and the Secretariat - consists of the four permanent administrative departments under the Secretary General.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) - responsible for furthering human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) - responds at the earliest possible stage to ethnic tensions that have the potential to develop into a conflict within the OSCE region.
The Representative on Freedom of the Media - assists governments in the furthering of free, independent and pluralistic media.
The Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities - addresses economic, social and environmental issues of security.
OSCE Missions - serve as instruments of conflict prevention and crisis management in a number of participating States.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) - meets annually to examine issues important to the national legislatures of the OSCE States.
The Court of Conciliation and Arbitration - established to settle disputes submitted to it by OSCE States.
Principles Guiding Relations Between Participating States
Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
Refraining from threat or use of force
Inviolability of frontiers
Territorial integrity of States
Peaceful settlement of disputes
Non-intervention in internal affairs
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief
Equal rights and self-determination of peoples
Co-operation among States
Fulfilment in good faith of obligations under international law
Origin of the Helsinki Accords
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had its origin in the early 1950s when the Soviet Union first proposed the creation of an all-European security conference. In the mid-1960s the Warsaw Pact renewed calls for such a conference. In May 1969, the Government of Finland sent a memorandum to all European countries, the United States and Canada, offering Helsinki as a conference venue. Beginning in November 1972, representatives from the original 35 nations met for nearly three years to work out the arrangements and the framework for the conference, concluding their work in July 1975.
On August 1, 1975, the leaders of the original 35 participating States gathered in Helsinki and signed the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Also known as the Helsinki Accords, the Final Act is not a treaty, but rather a politically binding agreement consisting of three main sections informally known as "baskets," adopted on the basis of consensus. This comprehensive Act contains a broad range of measures designed to enhance security and cooperation in the region extending from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
Basket I contains a Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations between participating States, including the all-important Principle VII on human rights and fundamental freedoms. It also includes a section on confidence-building measures and other aspects of security and disarmament aimed at increasing military transparency.
Basket II covers economic, scientific, technological and environmental cooperation, as well as migrant labor, vocational training and the promotion of tourism.
Basket III is devoted to cooperation in humanitarian and other fields: freer movement of people; human contacts, including family reunification and visits; freedom of information, including working conditions for journalists; and cultural and educational exchanges. Principle VII and Basket III together have come to be known as "The Human Dimension."
Since 1975, the number of countries signing the Helsinki Accords has expanded to 57, reflecting changes such as the breakup of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
Institutionalization of the Conference in the early 1990s led to its transformation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, effective January 1995.
CSCE :: About the Commission
When the Helsinki Final Act (HFA) was signed in Helsinki, Finland in 1975, it enshrined among its ten Principles Guiding Relations between participating States (the decalogue), a commitment to "respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience religion or belief, for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion" (Principle VII). In addition, the HFA included a section on cooperation regarding humanitarian concerns, including transnational human contacts, information, culture and education. The HFA and subsequently adopted OSCE agreements are not treaties and are therefore viewed as political commitments, not legal obligations.
The Role of the Helsinki Commission: The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission) is a U.S. Government agency, established in 1976 pursuant to Public Law 94-304. It is mandated to "monitor the acts of the signatories which reflect compliance with or violation of the articles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, with particular regard to the provisions relating to Cooperation in Humanitarian fields[i.e., the human dimension]." (Emphasis added.)
Since 1990, the Helsinki Commission has particularly focused on restrictions on the freedoms of speech, press, and assembly; the treatment of persons belonging to ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, including Roma; human rights violations in conflict settings and the prevention of torture. In addition, the Commission has monitored aspects of the transition to democracy, including challenges to the rule of law, free and fair elections, and the impact of corruption on the human and other dimensions of the OSCE.
What is the "Human Dimension"? "The Human Dimension" was a term coined during the drafting of the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document. This term was designed as a short-hand phrase to describe the human rights and humanitarian provisions of the agreements concluded within the framework of the Helsinki process. In addition, since 1989, this term has embraced the more recently adopted "democratization" commitments of the OSCE, summarized below.
Consensus: All of the agreements of the Helsinki process have been adopted on the basis of consensus; i.e., each participating State has agreed to every provision in each OSCE document.
Universality: Each participating State is equally bound by each document. All countries which joined the Helsinki process after 1975 have pledged, as a condition for membership, to "accept in their entirety all commitments and responsibilities contained in these documents and [. . . ] to act in accordance with their provisions."
Establishing Common Standards on Human Rights: Through the negotiation of successive agreements, the OSCE participating States gradually expanded the body of shared commitments. It was often the case, however, that Soviet-bloc countries might concede to a provision in principle, only to undermine it through the operation of national laws, rules, or regulations. The 1989 Vienna Concluding Document stated, "In this context, [the participating States] confirm that they will respect each other's right freely to choose and develop their political, social, economic and cultural systems as well as their right to determine their laws, regulations, practices and policies. In exercising these rights, they will ensure that their laws, regulations, practices and policies conform with their obligations under international law and are brought into harmony with the provisions of the Declaration on Principles and other CSCE commitments." (Emphasis added.) By 1990, as the Iron Curtain began to fall, the OSCE Heads of State and Government declared in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe: "We undertake to build, consolidate and strengthen democracy as the only system of government of our nations." (Emphasis added.)
Two OSCE documents enshrined the practice of raising human rights concerns. First, the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document committed each participating State (1) to respond to requests for information and to representations from any other participating State on specific cases or broad situations relating to commitments in the human dimension; (2) to meet bilaterally with participating States requesting such a meeting to examine these cases or situations; (3) to bring these cases and situations to the attention of the other participating States; and (4) to provide, if it deems necessary, information on what has transpired under the first two points at OSCE meetings.
Further establishing the OSCE commitments as the basis for bilateral and multilateral dialogue, the 1991 Moscow Concluding Document stated: "The participating States emphasize that issues relating to human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law are of international concern, as respect for these rights and freedoms constitutes one of the foundations of international order. They categorically and irrevocably declare that the commitments undertaken in the field of the human dimension of the CSCE are matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned." (Emphasis added.)
Summary of OSCE Commitments to Build, Consolidate and Strengthen Democracy
Democracy and the Rule of Law
The OSCE participating States have identified the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as one of the basic purposes of government and reaffirmed that recognition of these rights and freedoms constitutes the foundation of freedom, justice and peace.
They have acknowledged that democracy is an inherent element of the rule of law.
They have declared that the elements of justice which are essential to the full expression of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all human beings include (in addition to protections of civil and political rights):
a form of government that is representative in character, in which the executive is accountable to the elected legislature or the electorate;
the duty of the government and public authorities, which are not above the law, to comply with their constitution;
a clear separation between the state and political parties; in particular, political parties may not be merged with the state (the "no establishment clause" for political parties);
military forces and police under the control of, and accountable to, the civil authorities;
independent judges and impartial operation of the public judicial service.
Free and Fair Elections
The participating States have declared that the will of the people, expressed through periodic and genuine elections, is the basis of the authority and legitimacy of government.
To that end, they will respect the right of individuals and groups to establish freely political parties and organizations and enable them to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law and the authorities;
Recognizing that the presence of observers, both foreign and domestic, can enhance the electoral process, they agreed to invite governmental and non-governmental observers for national elections.
CSCE :: About the Commission
From its inception in the early 1970s, the Helsinki process – which includes the original Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), follow-up activities after 1975 and, since 1995, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – has been a multilateral, politically binding security arrangement. Having addressed successfully the challenges of the Cold War, this arrangement has maintained its relevance in the present era of regional conflict, arms proliferation, terrorism and other emerging threats by combining a uniquely comprehensive definition of security with flexibility and innovation of response.
Defining Security Comprehensively
The first of three chapters of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, commonly known as Basket I, deals with “Questions Relating to Security in Europe.” This chapter first sets forth 10 Principles guiding relations between participating States:
Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty;
Refraining from the threat or use of force;
Inviolability of frontiers;
Territorial integrity of States;
Peaceful settlement of disputes;
Non-intervention in internal affairs;
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including
the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief;
Equal rights and self-determination of peoples;
Cooperation among States; and
Fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law.
Some of the principles can be found in earlier international agreements, including the UN Charter, but the “primary significance” which the Final Act gave them all provided a uniquely comprehensive, political-military definition of security, particularly by making respect for human rights and the building of democratic institutions in one participating State a legitimate concern of all others. By committing to apply them “equally and unreservedly,” the OSCE also recognized a linkage between progress in one of these areas and progress in the others, a concrete and significant conceptual contribution to European security. The justification for balancing progress was most explicitly stated in the 1990 Charter of Paris for a new Europe, where the participating States expressed their conviction that “in order to strengthen peace and security among [them], the advancement of democracy, and respect for and effective exercise of human rights are indispensable.”
Early Soviet proposals for a pan-European conference were designed to manipulate the military balance in Europe, divide the United States from its allies and confirm Soviet hegemony over East-Central Europe. The OSCE’s new and unifying definition of security, however, instead formed a basis for ending the Cold War’s division of Europe and for recognizing that severe and continual violations of human rights are often the source of a conflict. Democratic development, therefore, was subsequently made a prerequisite for building a stable peace. Participating States today seek to ensure its realization “from Vancouver to Vladivostok” and to give this definition wider application around the globe.
Building Confidence and Security Through Transparency
The Final Act’s first chapter also contains specific military commitments which, as developed in subsequent documents, enhance European security in modest but very concrete ways. Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs) – such as prior notification of troop maneuvers and observation of military exercises – that form the core of this work on military aspects of security overcame barriers of secrecy and diminished the threat of surprise attack or misunderstanding of military activity.
For a few tense years in the early 1980s, OSCE negotiations were the only place where East and West sat at the same table to discuss security matters. The 1986 Stockholm Document not only achieved progress through measures for greater transparency but ushered in a new era of effective, mutually beneficial East-West arms control encompassing both nuclear and conventional forces. The OSCE capitalized on this success in the 1990s by expanding military openness and encouraging further reductions in force levels. A web of interlocking and mutually reinforcing arms control obligations and commitments links the politically binding Vienna Document of 1999 on CSBMs with the related 1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) and the 1992 Treaty on Open Skies, both legally binding and negotiated on an East-West basis, to form a framework for arms control. Reinforcing the regime of new measures in the Vienna Document 1999 is an updated mechanism for consultation and cooperation regarding unusual military activities.
An Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty was also signed in 1999, taking into account realities associated with the break-up of the Warsaw Pact and the demise of the Soviet Union. NATO countries, however, have linked ratification of the agreement to Russia’s implementation of commitments made in parallel with the 1999 Istanbul OSCE Summit to the withdrawal Treaty-Limited Equipment and military forces from Moldova, and the withdrawal or destruction of excess equipment, the closure of two bases and negotiations on remaining Russian bases and facilities in Georgia. To date, these commitments remain unfulfilled, making it impossible for the Agreement on Adaptation to come into force and for additional OSCE States, including some NATO allies, to become parties.
Maintaining a Security Dialogue
The Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) was established in 1992 to provide constant attention to implementation of existing arms control agreements, including through regular information exchanges, and to strengthen them when possible. The Forum also encourages a dialogue among the participating States on topics of common concern, such as non-proliferation measures, the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law and civil-military emergency preparedness. The adoption of the 1994 Code of Conduct on Political-Military Aspects of Security, which broke new ground by formulating norms on the role of armed forces in democratic societies, was among the FSC’s first notable achievements. The adoption in 2000 of the Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons was a later but even more significant achievement, providing a basis for developing guidelines on dealing with threats such weapons can pose, as well as for providing assistance upon request in securing stockpiles, disposing of small arms and enhancing border controls to reduce illicit arms trafficking.
Security issues are also discussed during the Annual Security Review Conference, the first of which was held in 2003. These conferences provide impetus for bringing new ideas for activity relating to European security into the OSCE framework. Meetings of OSCE foreign ministers and summits of heads of state/government have addressed security issues of paramount concern such as the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.
Addressing Regional Conflicts
Regional conflicts erupting in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s have been responsible for the most egregious violations of Helsinki principles since their adoption. In response, considerable effort has been devoted by the participating States to developing early warning of potential conflict, offering “good offices” for bringing conflicting parties together, monitoring borders vulnerable to sources of instability and ensuring that sub-regional arms control and security-enhancing measures are adopted and implemented. A good example of the latter were the Article II, Article IV and Article V agreements originally mandated by the Annex 1-B of 1995 Dayton General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the OSCE has contributed to the training of civilian police in several post-conflict situations.
The need to respond to regional conflicts also required the OSCE to become more than a negotiating forum. OSCE field operations, taking many forms, including efforts by OSCE institutions and designated representatives, began in the early 1990s. Significant among them, especially given the ethnic character of regional tensions, was the establishment of the High Commissioner for National Minorities with a specific task to provide early-warning of potential conflict. Field activities, however, take their most visible form as field missions of various sizes deployed at one time or another in places like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Chechnya, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Kosovo and Serbia and Montenegro. Since 1992, the OSCE has had the capability to organize unarmed peacekeeping forces, although the need for more robust operations in conflict areas has precluded serious activity in this regard.
The events of September 11, 2001, galvanized OSCE efforts to combat terrorism. An OSCE Charter on Preventing and Combating Terrorism, adopted in 2002, targeted four strategic areas for specific action: policing, border control, trafficking and money laundering. The Action Against Terrorism Unit established in the OSCE Secretariat provides assistance to participating States, often in field activities along with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, in strengthening the legal framework for combating terrorism. OSCE efforts have sought to strengthen personal travel and document security as well as transport container security. The OSCE has also broadened the application of export controls on man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).
The Helsinki Commission’s Role
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission) is a U.S. Government agency, established in 1976 pursuant to Public Law 94-304, mandated to “monitor the acts of the signatories which reflect compliance with or violation of the articles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe…” While particular emphasis was given to “provisions relating to Cooperation in Humanitarian fields,” today known as the Human Dimension, the Commission also monitors developments regarding the Security Dimension and has similarly sought to encourage greater compliance with commitments adopted by the participating States on the basis of consensus. Activities in recent years have included hearings on combating terrorism and on illegal arms/weapons transfers, briefings on the U.S. chairmanship of the Forum for Security Cooperation and on OSCE police training, as well as attendance at security-related OSCE meetings.
CSCE :: About the Commission
Economic, scientific and environmental cooperation were grouped together in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and form the economic dimension of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Based on the view that trade, as well as scientific and environmental collaboration, enhance security, OSCE efforts in this area are designed to facilitate and build on the transition from command to market economies, to lessen economic disparities between participating States, and to combat economic and environmental threats to security.
Within the economic and environmental dimension, as it is generally referred, the OSCE countries have adopted a wide range of commitments designed to foster free market economies and enhance economic cooperation, including better economic and commercial information and improved business contacts and facilities. They have also agreed on industrial cooperation measures such as harmonization of standards and arbitration of disputes.
Additionally, this dimension includes cooperative efforts in the fields of science (such as physics, chemistry, meteorology, oceanography, space research) and technology (e.g., energy, new technologies, computer technology). With respect to the environment, participating States have committed to study bilateral and multilateral environmental problems and ways to increase the effectiveness of national and international protection measures. Areas of specific interest include trans-boundary air and water pollution, marine protection, and protection of the Mediterranean environment.
The 1999 Istanbul Charter for European Security broke new ground in the economic commitments as it was the first time that the participating States collectively recognized that corruption poses a great threat to the OSCE’s shared values. The countries, at Istanbul, committed themselves to combat corruption and the conditions that foster it.
The 2003 Maastricht Ministerial Council updated the Bonn Economic Strategy document by adopting concrete measures designed to foster sustainable development, improve corporate governance, promote regional integration and overall to address the uneven economic development among OSCE States and to address the emergence of new threats to security and stability.
The OSCE Economic Forum
With the collapse of communism, states in Central and Eastern Europe as well as those of the former Soviet Union embarked on a difficult process of economic transition.
This transition has been threatened by high unemployment, corruption and weak rule of law, factors that hinder investment, impede economic growth and fuel illegal economic activities. Environmental degradation, mismanagement and uneven distribution of natural resources have also caused tension in communities and between countries.
In the early 1990s, the United States attempted to give political stimulus to the dialogue on the transition to free market economies and to suggest practical efforts to assist in their development. Thus, in 1992 the OSCE Economic Forum was created as an annual conference designed to enhance dialogue on the transition to free-market economies; suggest practical means of developing free-market systems and economic cooperation; provide an annual focus for activities by targeting major issues of economic or environmental concern; contribute to the elaboration of specific recommendation and follow-up activities; and review the implementation of the participating States' commitments described in key documents.
The OSCE economic and environmental commitments, and activities of the OSCE in this area, reflect the desire of participating States for economic development that contributes to stability and treats citizens fairly. The Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities under the OSCE Secretariat, was created in 1997 to strengthen the ability of the Permanent Council and the OSCE institutions to address economic, social and environmental aspects of security. For example, labor migration within the OSCE region allows for an important source of income for residents of less-developed countries who are able to find work in more economically vibrant countries. With this opportunity also comes the risk of trafficking or exploitation. The OSCE has developed a “Handbook on Establishing Effective Labour Migration Policies in Countries of Origin and Destination” in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). This handbook serves as a discussion point and best practices guide for participating States seeking to develop effective regional labor migration management.
Part of the OSCE’s effort to combat human trafficking is also encompassed in this work. Lack of economic opportunities, unemployment and loss of social cohesion are the main factors that contribute to women's and children's, but also men's vulnerability to trafficking. The Economic Coordinator’s office has developed an Anti-Trafficking Programme on Public-Private Co-operation in the Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings (ATP). The ATP aims at addressing both the demand and supply side of trafficking in human beings by promoting self-regulation of the private sector; awareness-raising in countries of destination, in particular in Western countries; and creating economic empowerment opportunities for potential victims of trafficking in countries of origin.
The environment is also recognized as a key factor in not only economic development, but security as well. Environmental degradation, resource scarcity, the uneven distribution of natural resources or resource abundance are emerging as potential triggers or accelerating factors of tensions within and among states. One of the ways the OSCE is addressing environmental issues is through the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) that provides a framework for cooperation on environmental issues across borders and promoting peace and stability through environmental cooperation and sustainable development.
To read about other specific projects the OSCE field missions are working on in this area, click here.
The Helsinki Commission’s Role
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission) is a U.S. Government agency, established in 1976 pursuant to Public Law 94-304, mandated to “monitor the acts of the signatories which reflect compliance with or violation of the articles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe…” While particular emphasis was given to “provisions relating to Cooperation in Humanitarian fields,” today known as the human dimension, the Commission has also focused attention on the economic and environmental dimension of the OSCE, including related commitments and decisions. Activities in recent years have included hearings stressing the importance of democratic governance, transparency and the role of civil society as well as a hearing specifically focused on the lingering consequences of the Chornobyl disaster. Initiatives have also been undertaken on topics ranging from ethics standards and parliamentary immunity to combating corruption and international crime.
CSCE :: About the Commission
Title: Act of June 3, 1976, Public Law No. 94-304, 90 Stat. 661 (codified as amended at 22 U.S.C. 3001-3009)
Sec. 3001. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe; establishment
There is established the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (hereafter in this chapter referred to as the ''Commission'').
Sec. 3002. Function and duties of Commission
The Commission is authorized and directed to monitor the acts of the signatories which reflect compliance with or violation of the articles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, with particular regard to the provisions relating to human rights and Cooperation in Humanitarian Fields. The Commission is further authorized and directed to monitor and encourage the development of programs and activities of the United States Government and private organizations with a view toward taking advantage of the provisions of the Final Act to expand East-West economic cooperation and a greater interchange of people and ideas between East and West.
Sec. 3003. Commission membership
(a) Selection and appointment of members
The Commission shall be composed of twenty-one members as follows:
(1) Nine Members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Five Members shall be selected from the majority party and four Members shall be selected, after consultation with the minority leader of the House, from the minority party.
(2) Nine Members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate. Five Members shall be selected from the majority party of the Senate, after consultation with the majority leader, and four Members shall be selected, after consultation with the minority leader of the Senate, from the minority party.
(3) One member of the Department of State appointed by the President of the United States.
(4) One member of the Department of Defense appointed by the President of the United States.
(5) One member of the Department of Commerce appointed by the President of the United States.
(b) Commission Chairman and Cochairman
There shall be a Chairman and a Cochairman of the Commission.
(c) Designation of Chairman
At the beginning of each odd-numbered Congress, the President of the Senate, on the recommendation of the majority leader, shall designate one of the Senate Members as Chairman of the Commission. At the beginning of each even-numbered Congress, the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall designate one of the House Members as Chairman of the Commission.
(d) Designation of Cochairman
At the beginning of each odd-numbered Congress, the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall designate one of the House Members as Cochairman of the Commission. At the beginning of each even-numbered Congress, the President of the Senate, on the recommendation of the majority leader, shall designate one of the Senate Members as Cochairman of the Commission.
Sec. 3004. Testimony of witnesses, production of evidence; issuance of subpena; administration of oaths
In carrying out this chapter, the Commission may require, by subpena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memorandums, papers, and documents as it deems necessary. Subpenas may be issued over the signature of the Chairman of the Commission or any member designated by him, and may be served by any person designated by the Chairman or such member. The Chairman of the Commission, or any member designated by him, may administer oaths to any witness.
Sec. 3005. Presidential report to Congress; annual submission; contents
In order to assist the Commission in carrying out its duties, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Commission an annual report discussing the overall United States policy objectives that are advanced through meetings of decision-making bodies of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the OSCE implementation review process, and other activities of the OSCE. The report shall also include a summary of specific U.S. policy objectives with respect to participating States where there is a particular concern relating to the implementation of OSCE commitments or where an OSCE presence exists. This summary shall address the role played by OSCE institutions, mechanisms, or field activities in achieving U.S. policy objectives. The report, covering the period from January 1 to December 31, shall be submitted within 90 days after the end of the reporting period. The report shall be posted on the website of the Department of State.
Sec. 3006. Commission report to Congress; periodic reports; expenditure of appropriations
The Commission is authorized and directed to report to the House of Representatives and the Senate with respect to the matters covered by this chapter on a periodic basis and to provide information to Members of the House and Senate as requested. For each fiscal year for which an appropriation is made the Commission shall submit to Congress a report on its expenditures under such appropriation.
Sec. 3007. Appropriations for Commission
(a) Authorization; disbursements
(1) There are authorized to be appropriated to the Commission for each fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to enable it to carry out its duties and functions. Appropriations to the Commission are authorized to remain available until expended.
(2) Appropriations to the Commission shall be disbursed on vouchers approved -
(A) jointly by the Chairman and the Cochairman, or
(B) by a majority of the members of the personnel and administration committee established pursuant to section 3008(a) of this title.
(b) Use of foreign currencies
For purposes of section 1754(b) of this title, the Commission shall be deemed to be a standing committee of the Congress and shall be entitled to use funds in accordance with such sections.
(c) Official reception and representational expenses
Not to exceed $6,000 of the funds appropriated to the Commission for each fiscal year may be used for official reception and representational expenses.
(d) Foreign travel for official purposes
Foreign travel for official purposes by Commission members and staff may be authorized by either the Chairman or the Cochairman.
Sec. 3008. Commission staff
(a) Personnel and administration committee
The Commission shall have a personnel and administration committee composed of the Chairman, the Cochairman, the senior Commission member from the minority party in the House of Representatives, and the senior Commission member from the minority party in the Senate.
(b) Committee functions
All decisions pertaining to the hiring, firing, and fixing of pay of Commission staff personnel shall be by a majority vote of the personnel and administration committee, except that -
(1) the Chairman shall be entitled to appoint and fix the pay of the staff director, and the Cochairman shall be entitled to appoint and fix the pay of his senior staff person; and
(2) the Chairman and Cochairman each shall have the authority to appoint, with the approval of the personnel and administration committee, at least four professional staff members who shall be responsible to the Chairman or the Cochairman (as the case may be) who appointed them. The personnel and administration committee may appoint and fix the pay of such other staff personnel as it deems desirable.
(c) Staff appointments
All staff appointments shall be made without regard to the provisions of title 5 governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and general schedule pay rates.
(d) Commission employees as congressional employees
(1) For purposes of pay and other employment benefits, rights, and privileges and for all other purposes, any employee of the Commission shall be considered to be a congressional employee as defined in section 2107 of title 5.
(2) For purposes of section 3304(c)(1)  of title 5, staff personnel of the Commission shall be considered as if they are in positions in which they are paid by the Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives.
(3) The provisions of paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection shall be effective as of June 3, 1976.
Sec. 3009. Printing and binding costs
For purposes of costs relating to printing and binding, including the costs of personnel detailed from the Government Printing Office, the Commission shall be deemed to be a committee of the Congress.
234 Ford House Office Building | 3rd and D Streets SW | Washington, DC 20515
Tel: 202-225-1901 | Fax: 202-226-4199 | Email: email@example.com | Privacy Statement
“Helsinki Commission Chair Rep. Chris Smith is honored for his efforts to promote an end to the division of Cyprus, with Alexis Galanos, President, Union of Cypriot Municipalities and Mayor of Famagusta, Cyprus. (June 2015)