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Kosovo Declaration of Independence and the International Community - an Assessment by the Kosovo Monitoring Task Force

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the roles played by international organisations with relation to Kosovo independence in the months prior to the declaration of independence to March 2008, based on data collected by the Kosovo Monitoring Task Force in the frame of the MIRICO project.

Introduction

Created in the frame of the MIRICO project - Human and Minority Rights in the Life-Cycle of Ethnic Conflicts, the Kosovo Monitoring Task Force is composed of academics and professionals who have decided to monitor the process of independence of Kosovo2. This essay therefore would like to be considered exemplificative of the possible researches which can be conducted on the basis of the data collected by the Task Force. Data coming from the monitoring activity are publicly available at the Institute for Minority Rights of the European Academy of Bolzano and accessible to all academics interested in researching on the independence of Kosovo and its implications at international level.

The aim of this paper is to give an overview of the roles played by key-organisations, such as the UN, OSCE, European Union, Council of Europe and NATO (indicated in the paper as the International Community) from the months before the Kosovo declaration of independence until March 2008. In this context, mention to major powers (e.g. Russia and Serbia) is merely functional to the description of the role played by International Organisations, and is not to be included in the term International Community used for this paper.

Conclusions at the end of the paper are thus based on the results coming from the analysis of this specific period of time, and should not be considered as conclusive.

Short historical overview of the administration and governance in Kosovo

Since June 1999, Kosovo has been governed by an interim administration led by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) established by the UNSC Resolution 1244 (1999). Headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), the operational framework of UNMIK has been divided into four pillars: (i) Police and Justice, under the direct leadership of the UN; (ii) Civil Administration (UN); (iii) Democratization and Institution Building (OSCE); (iv) Reconstruction and Economic Development (EU)3.

The military component has been led by NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) on the basis of UNSC Resolution 1244. KFOR was set up as a separate body from UNMIK and, while the necessities of the work required cooperation with UNMIK, it is not controlled by the civilian authority in Kosovo (unlike the situation under the UN administration in East Timor)4.

In 2001 the Constitutional Framework for Provision Self-Government in Kosovo was issued by the SRSG created a system known as the "Provisional Institutions of Self-Government" (PISG)5. Furthermore, the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan, put together by UNMIK in 2004, spelt out how to achieve a democratic society, based on the rule of law and effective equality.

The International Community and the Ahtisaari plan

In November 2005, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari was appointed special envoy of the UN Secretary-General to prepare a proposal for the future status of Kosovo. The UN-led process followed a set of "guiding principles" agreed upon by the Contact Group countries6. No return to the pre-1999 situation, no partition of Kosovo and no redrawing of international borders in the region were among the top priorities to take into account in preparing the comprehensive proposal7.

After 15 rounds of talks and a final high-level meeting between Belgrade and Pristina in Vienna on 10 March 2007, Mr. Ahtisaari delivered his plan, comprising a four-page Report and the 63-page Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, to the UN Secretary General on 15 March 2007(8).

Already on 12 March 2007, however, Mr. Ahtisaari declared talks on the future status of the province to be deadlocked9. …