The mission concept dates from the early 1990s. It grew out of the need to deal with intra-State conflicts in the period of post-Communist transition. The Organization now employs about 2,500 staff in 16 missions and field activities located in South-eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Although no two mandates are the same, generally speaking the missions’ purposes are twofold: to facilitate the political processes that are intended to prevent or settle conflicts, and to ensure that the OSCE community is kept informed of developments in the countries where missions are present. The mandates, composition and operation of missions and other field activities are increasingly varied, underlining the flexibility of this instrument. However, for all missions, human dimension issues, democracy and building the rule of law are a central task.