Who we are
The OSCE is a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action to improve the lives of individuals and communities. The organization uses a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses the politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions. Through this approach, and with its inclusive membership, the OSCE helps bridge differences and build trust between states by co-operating on conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.
With its Institutions, expert units and network of field operations, the OSCE addresses issues that have an impact on our common security, including arms control, terrorism, good governance, energy security, human trafficking, democratization, media freedom and national minorities.
Working for the OSCE
About 3,500 people work for the OSCE in five institutions and 17 field operations. There are tremendous opportunities – from field work in offices in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, to positions in the institutions in Vienna, The Hague, and Warsaw, through to administrative and managerial positions which keep the organisation ticking over every day.
As a non-career organization it is important to ensure that staff joining the OSCE become operational very quickly and remain skilled throughout their tenure at the OSCE. The OSCE therefore offers not only a comprehensive General Orientation Programme, but a range of training and learning opportunities on topics such as leadership, management, communication, and operational skills.
Olga Jukova – Chief of Fund Administration – OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine
I started my work in the OSCE as a finance assistant and now I supervise the work of 13 other people. It was almost 16 years ago when I saw the vacancy opening at the OSCE Centre in Tashkent; I was working in the Ministry of Energy. The position required a technical background, and since I graduated from the Technical University, working with figures was something I felt comfortable with.
Once the Centre changed its mandate and was transformed into the Project Co-ordinator, I had to learn to work with project implementation. I got the position of National Project Officer and then continued as a local Chief of Fund Administration (CFA). I have been working as CFA since 2005: First in the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan (formerly the OSCE Centre in Tashkent), and later in the Office in Yerevan.
I became one of the first female CFAs in OSCE history. It was more than a purely administrative position and I also performed managerial tasks. I get to learn something new every day – it is a challenge, but also a great opportunity for development. In any position I had, I received training not only in finance, but also in management, human resources, and professional procurement such as the CIPS trainings.
It makes me happy that I can come up with an initiative, implement the idea and see the results. When I assumed my duties as a CFA in Kyiv more than two years ago, I saw that staff was overloaded with work. I analyzed the situation and initiated reorganization of the office procurement procedures. We managed to introduce new local window contracts which improved efficiency, secured the best value for money and also saved our staff a lot of time.
The OSCE is a quite young organization in comparison to the UN and still very flexible. It is able to react to changes in the political situation in a country, which is a great quality. For our office this means that we also have to be flexible, and able to adjust our procedures. That’s why innovation is very welcome here.
Women, peace, and security
The OSCE recognizes that equal rights and opportunities for women and men are fundamental to achieving comprehensive security, and has committed to ensuring that a gender perspective is integrated into all its activities. To do this effectively, the Secretariat’s Gender Section gives support to all OSCE structures, field operations and participating States.
The OSCE’s work is guided by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 governing the women, peace, and security agenda. The Resolution recognizes the pivotal role women play in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction. The Organization focuses on issues with a specific security-related context, such as early warning mechanisms, conflict management and mediation, and women’s equal participation in reconstruction efforts. It provides technical briefings to governments to help them implement the Resolution, publishes material to promote increased women’s participation throughout the cycle of conflicts, and ensures that women’s grassroots groups are included in conflict resolution and reconciliation processes.
Women’s economic empowerment
Economic empowerment of women is one of the most important contributing factors to gender equality and to addressing poverty reduction and improving access to services such as health and education. Through its field operations, the OSCE supports women entrepreneurs to access resources and build networks; provides training and legal advice on how to open and run a business; and supports the development of gender-sensitive national migration policies to ensure equal opportunities and protection for both male and female labour migrants.
Employee Spotlight – Helen Brunner deCastris
Helen Brunner deCastris is currently holding the position of Director for the Department of Management and Finance at the OSCE Secretariat. She has over 23 years of professional work experience in finance, management and audit in both the public and private sector. She is a US Certified Public Accountant, Certified Government Auditing Professional, Prince2 Project Manager and has a Certificate in Public Procurement.
Prior to her current assignment, Helen was the Deputy Director for Budget and Finance Services at the OSCE Department of Management Finance for 3 years. Before joining OSCE, she was with the UN system as Section Head of Financial Policy and Internal Controls and as IPSAS Project Manager for 5 1/2 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Prior to that she was responsible for Strategic Planning and Budget at the Preparatory Commission for the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Before joining the public sector in 1998, she worked for Price Waterhouse Coopers for 5 years as an Auditor and then as Controller.
Helen has successfully led numerous large and cross-organizational reform projects during her career where she has demonstrated her ability to deliver complex and high-profile change management projects in various international organizations.
In her challenging position as the new Director for the Department of Management and Finance (comprising over 100 staff) Helen provides leadership, direction, management and policy guidance in relation to the proper management of OSCE financial and material resources. She is also a part of the senior executive leadership team at OSCE and directly supports the Secretary General of the OSCE on all administrative and financial matters.