"Eyes and ears" of the OSCE in volatile Eastern Ukraine

Arild Tjelle recently embarked on his first NORDEM mission with the OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM). 

“I look forward to speak with people who are caught up in the conflict, to listen to what they say, and bring attention to their concerns”, says Arild Tjelle at the briefing with NORDEM (photo:NORDEM)


The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine has so far claimed 9000 lives, and although the last six months have been relatively calm, recent weeks have seen an escalation of the conflict. 

Renewed fighting will bring more suffering to the local population and may slow down the crucial and much needed political, judicial and economic reforms the Ukrainian government, with considerable international support, is currently implementing.


"Eyes and ears" of the international community

The unarmed, civilian mission, which Arild is a part of, performs a key role in observing and reporting on the situation in the disputed territories, as well as in other parts of Ukraine. Arild believes that the role of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) as the “eyes and ears” of the international community on the ground is crucial:

“I think one way of contributing is to provide valid and impartial information to decision makers, not based on propaganda and biased views, but rather on facts, real observations and actual incidents.

The Monitoring Officers are tasked with constantly monitoring implementation of the Minsk cease fire agreements. The mission also facilitates local dialogue and ceasefires, monitors the human rights situation, and identifies and facilitates responds to humanitarian needs of those affected by the war.


Limited infrastructure

"Working under pressure, often under harsh conditions and with limited infrastructure, with colleagues of all kinds of backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, is a challenge. Still, I like it a lot and I think it brings about something that I cannot get in my "everyday" life in Norway.

After two weeks of training and preparing for the mission, Arild was deployed to Donetsk city, the "administrative center" of the so-called “Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR)” held by the pro-Russian rebel group.


23 Norwegian Monitors

The SMM, today counting almost 700 Monitoring Officers, was established by the OSCE participating States in Vienna on 21 March 2014. Since then, NORDEM has contributed a total of 23 highly dedicated and skilled Monitoring Officers and one Political Analyst to the mission, 17 in 2015 alone.

Norwegian monitors seconded by NORDEM have a variety of backgrounds in fields such as police, military, humanitarian, human rights, gender, and diplomacy. Most have experience from other international missions.


Interested in applying?

Have a look at our vacancy announcements.

Read more about the mission here.

Published Feb. 15, 2016 1:47 PM - Last modified Feb. 16, 2016 8:36 AM