Secretary General Spencer Oliver was chosen as the first Secretary General of the Assembly by the first Bureau meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in October 1992 and confirmed unanimously by the Standing Committee of Heads of Delegation at their meeting in Copenhagen in 1993.
The Standing Committee of Heads of Delegations decided in 1995 to provide for a five-year term for the Secretary General. At that time Oliver was unanimously re-elected and was subsequently re-elected three times for five-year terms.
Previously, Oliver served 22 years as a staff member in the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Helsinki Commission from 1976-1985 and as Chief Counsel of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives until January 1993. He also served in several senior diplomatic positions on U.S. delegations to CSCE Review and Expert Meetings between 1977 and 1993.
The Secretary General's mandate includes responsibility for managing the affairs of the Assembly, ensuring the efficiency of the Secretariat, and carrying out the decisions of the Bureau, the Standing Committee and the Assembly. He reports to the President, the Bureau, the Standing Committee and the Annual Session.
He nominates the two Deputy Secretaries General, who must be confirmed by the Standing Committee. He appoints and directs the staff of the Secretariat and works with the Treasurer to prepare and administer the budget of the Assembly. Along with the Treasurer, he is responsible for the management of the Assembly's financial resources.
He represents the Assembly at various official meetings of the OSCE and such other meetings and functions that may be appropriate. He also maintains regular contacts with members of the Bureau, Heads and Secretaries of Delegations, and OSCE officials in other OSCE Institutions. He works on a regular basis with the Secretaries General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
The Secretary General regularly reports on the work of the International Secretariat.