As well as Switzerland's Ambassador Greminger's appointment, a decision has been made on three other key roles: former Icelandic Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gisladóttir has been named head of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, French ex-minister Harlem Désir will become Representative on Freedom of the Media, and former OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier will be the organisation's new High Commissioner on National Minorities.
With 57 participating states in North America, Europe and Asia, the OSCE, based in Vienna, is the world's largest regional security organisation and is a key platform for dialogue and joint action. With its 17 field operations and comprehensive definition of security, encompassing politico-military, economic and environmental aspects as well as the human dimension, the OSCE helps to promote cooperation between states on conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.
The Secretary General heads up the Secretariat in Vienna and provides direct support to the Chairmanship. The Secretariat is made up of the Conflict Prevention Centre and departments and offices dealing, for example, with cross-border threats, including counter-terrorism, border management, and police, economic and environmental reform, cooperation with partner states and organisations, gender equality and combating human trafficking. The Secretary General is appointed by the Ministerial Council for a three-year term which is then renewable for another three years.
Switzerland has been actively involved in the OSCE and its predecessor, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), since the early 1970s. In 2014, it chaired the OSCE for the second time, having done so initially in 1996. In this organisation it holds discussions on security policy issues with all European and Central Asian countries, the United States and Canada. Switzerland is playing a central role in the OSCE's efforts to overcome the European security crisis and restore confidence in this area.
Since August 2015 Ambassador Thomas Greminger has been deputy director and head of the South Cooperation Department of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). He was born in 1961 in Lucerne and grew up in Adliswil (ZH). In 1990 Ambassador Greminger joined the diplomatic service of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). He was Switzerland's permanent representative to the OSCE, the United Nations and the international organisations in Vienna from 2010 until 2015 and headed the OSCE Permanent Council during Switzerland's chairmanship of this organisation in 2014. Ambassador Greminger will take office as OSCE Secretary General on 19 July 2017.
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