The Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) was established as part of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a mandate contained in the Helsinki Document 1992 "The Challenges of Change" and adopted at the July 1992 CSCE Helsinki Summit.
The FSC mandate includes a Program for Immediate Action (PIA) to direct negotiations and dialogue by providing a list of issues which will benefit from the attention of the CSCE.
The FSC conducts negotiations on arms control, disarmament and confidence- and security-building, with additional tasks to enhance regular consultation and intensify cooperation on security matters and to further the process of reducing the risk of conflict. The FSC opened on September 22, 1992, and works on a continuous basis in Vienna, Austria.
At the December 1, 1993 Rome Council Meeting, CSCE Foreign Ministers designated additional tasks for the FSC. Specifically, they assigned to the FSC responsibility for:
- annual implementation assessment meetings concerning CSBMs,
- providing the forum for discussion and clarification, as necessary, of information exchanged under agreed CSBMs,
- preparing seminars on military doctrine and such other seminars as may be agreed by the participating States,
The FSC's PIA is not all-inclusive, and can be amended, supplemented or extended. The PIA will be reviewed, together with the progress and results obtained, at the next CSCE Review Conference in Budapest, Hungary (October 10 to December 2, 1994), which will culminate in the next CSCE Summit Meeting of Heads of State or Government.
In November 1993, slightly more than one year after it began; and immediately prior to the Rome CSCE Ministerial Meeting, the FSC adopted the following four measures, fulfilling part of the PIA:
- Program of Military Contacts and Cooperation, which builds upon related measures contained in paragraph 34 (Military Contacts) of the Vienna Document 1992 (VD92) and comes into force on January 1, 1994.
- Defense Planning, which builds upon a related measure contained in paragraph 16 (Information on Military Budgets) of VD92 and comes into force on January 1, 1994.
- Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers, which also took upon adoption, reaffirms commitments made by the participating States in accordance with United Nations and other CSCE documents and provides guidelines for effective national export controls applicable to conventional weapons.
Adoption of these four measures is a significant step on the part of the FSC, but there is still a considerable body of work identified in the PIA, which has not been completed. Among the key issues are:
- Development of the Vienna Document 1992. It was decided in Helsinki that there is room to further develop the CSBMs contained in VD92. Discussion of this issue has been limited to date, partly because some States want to separate VD92 "improvements" from issues discussed under other elements of the PIA, such as harmonization or force planning.
- Establishment of a Code of Conduct. Several proposals are being discussed in an effort to produce a consolidated "code of conduct", laying out norms of responsible and international behavior on politico-military aspects of security.
- Harmonization of Existing Obligations Concerning Arms Control, Disarmament and Confidence- and Security-Building. This entails "harmonizing" the similar, yet distinctly different, regimes associated with the 30 nation Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and 52 nation VD92. The early submission of several proposals has encouraged detailed discussion of harmonization, but the complexity of the topic has forced a slow pace as numerous concerns are addressed. Within the FSC, discussion of harmonization includes four components: information to be exchanged, verification provisions, limitations, and institutions (to support implementation).
- Global Exchange of Military Information. This measure will increase transparency through a new and separate annual exchange of information on armaments, equipment and personnel in the conventional armed forces of CSCE States. The major impact of this information regime will be felt by CSCE States whose forces outside the CSCE zone of application in Europe have not previously been subject to such an exchange.