Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights - is the principal institution responsible for the promotion of human rights and democracy in the OSCE area.

The ODIHR's mandate is to help OSCE participating States "ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, to abide by the rule of law, to promote principles of democracy and ... to build, strengthen and protect democratic institutions, as well as promote tolerance throughout society."

The ODIHR, based in Warsaw, Poland, has been growing steadily since its creation in 1990 and now includes a human rights section and a tolerance programme. Today, it employs more than 100 staff members and is active throughout the whole OSCE region.

What does the ODIHR do?

In accordance with its mandate, the ODIHR:

  • Serves as a collection point for information from participating States on violent manifestations of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and anti-Semitism, as well as legislation relating to such crimes. In collecting this data, the ODIHR co-operates closely with non-governmental organizations and with organisations and mechanisms within other intergovernmental organizations, in particular; The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; The European Commission against Racism and Xenophobia (ECRI) within the Council of Europe; and European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) within the European Union.
  • Provides practical support in consolidating democratic institutions and uses long-term programmes and targeted projects to strengthen civil society and democratic governance practices.
  • Assists OSCE field missions in implementing their human dimension activities, including through training, exchange of experiences, and regional co-ordination;
  • Contributes to early warning and conflict prevention by monitoring the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments by participating States;
  • Provides regular human rights training for government authorities, civil society , and OSCE staff;
  • Assists participating States with the implementation of international legal obligations and OSCE commitments on terrorism in line with human rights principles;
  • Serves as the OSCE Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues; promotes the full integration of Roma and Sinti groups into the societies in which they live;
  • Organises regular meetings on the implementation of human dimension commitments, such as the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, the annual Human Dimension Seminar, and Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings.

In all its activities, the ODIHR reaches out to a network of partners active in related areas, including international and local non-governmental human rights organisations, as well as international governmental organisations, in particular the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe, and the European Union.

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