Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is the principal institution of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) dealing with the "human dimension" of security. The office, originally named Office for Free Elections, was created in 1990 by the Charter of Paris and established in 1991. The name of the office was changed in 1992 to reflect the broadened mandate it received at the 1992 Helsinki Summit.
The ODIHR, based in Warsaw (Poland) is active throughout the 57 participating States of the OSCE. It assists governments to live up to their commitments as participating States of the OSCE in the areas of elections, human rights, democracy, rule of law, and tolerance and non-discrimination. The office also hosts the organisation's Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues.
The ODIHR is best known for its role in observing elections. It has observed over 150 elections across the OSCE region and has deployed some 35,000 observers.
The office organises the annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, Europe's largest human rights conference.
- During the United States elections, 2012—following media reports that tied ODIHR international electoral observers to the United Nations and accused them of having plans to interfere in the election—the observers, who said they were in the United States to review several benchmarks of democratic elections, were blocked from polls in nine of the 50 states—Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Special coordinator for the OSCE mission, Joao Soares, a member of the Portuguese parliament, said he would issue the official post-election statement on Tuesday's U.S. election on the following Thursday.1
- Janez Lenarčič (Slovenia): 2008-
- Christian Strohal (Austria): 2003-2008
- Gérard Stoudmann (Switzerland): 1997-2003
- Audrey Glover (United Kingdom): 1994-1997
- Luchino Cortese (Italy): 1991-1997