The High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) heads an institution of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The post was created in 1992 to identify and seek early resolution of ethnic tensions that could endanger peace, stability or friendly relations between the 57 OSCE participating States. Since then, “Integration with respect for diversity” has driven the work of successive High Commissioners in their continuous efforts to build bridges between communities.

The post is described in the mandate of the HCNM as “an instrument of conflict prevention at the earliest possible stage.” This means that the High Commissioner works to address the long-term causes of interethnic tensions as well as seeking solutions to contain and de-escalate urgent situations. The High Commissioner works to ease tensions involving national minorities that could lead to conflict within the OSCE area and provides the OSCE with “early warnings” if ethnic tensions threaten to develop into conflict. The High Commissioner also regularly provides the 57 OSCE participating States with recommendations and guidance on policies to harness the benefits of their diverse societies.

For insights into the thematic work of the successive High Commissioners see our series of short animated videos (in 8 languages) on YouTube and on the OSCE HCNM website: