|Updated: 06-Dec-2000||NATO Review|
The challenge of rebuilding Kosovo
Bernard Kouchner speaks to the press before swearing in new ethnic Albanian and Serbian judges in Kosovska Mitrovica on 31 August.
(AP photo 49Kb)
The international community has embarked on
an enormous task in helping to rebuild Kosovo. With KFOR's assistance
and under the umbrella of the UN, key international organisations are
working together to re-establish civil and administrative functions and
prepare the province for elections and eventual self-government. However,
as Dr. Kouchner - the most senior international civilian official in Kosovo
- points out, its future will not just depend on the efforts of the international
community, but will require overcoming the intolerance that has plagued
this region for so long.
In committing itself to rebuilding Kosovo, the international community
took on an enormous challenge. It is not just the recovery of a lost peace
and the return of a war-ravaged displaced people, but the rebuilding of
a shattered society, the creation of a democratic environment, the development
of a crippled economy, and the rebirth of a subjugated culture.
With the assistance of the NATO-led Kosovo security force, KFOR, the
United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo - known as UNMIK
- has begun to lay the groundwork for meeting those objectives. And I
must underline that the excellent relationship we have with the KFOR Commander,
Lt. General Sir Mike Jackson, and his team, is key to the success of this
mission. By 21 September, KFOR had demilitarised the region and all the
former combatants had complied with the deadline for handing in weapons.
The measure of the mission's success, however, will not come from whether
those objectives were achieved in the shorter term, but whether the democratic
values and structures this mission is attempting to define for this region
leave an indelible legacy.
The situation in Kosovo today is not satisfactory. How could it be? The
mission and KFOR are going through an extremely sensitive and dangerous
period, which is to be expected following the end of conflict. There continue
to be security concerns for the minorities, particularly the Serbs; the
population is still without adequate infrastructure; and the region remains
economically impoverished. And after years of oppression and numerous
massacres and atrocities, the situation cannot be expected to be much
better here, nor can the mentality of the people be changed overnight.
Our job is not impossible. But it takes time. UNMIK is a unique operation
set up by the United Nations Security Council to prepare Kosovo for elections
- scheduled for next spring - and then self-government. To reach that
target, UNMIK is acting as a transitional administration for the region,
which means it performs, and coordinates with the people of Kosovo, all
the basic administrative functions such as policing, banking, customs,
health service, education, and post and telecommunications.
In this way, and by working with the people of Kosovo, UNMIK is overseeing
the development of democratic self-governing institutions, as well as
economic reconstruction and humanitarian assistance. To meet these objectives,
UNMIK is working with other international organisations, as full partners
under UN leadership, including the Office of the High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) and the European Union (EU).
Recently recruited police cadets from both the Kosovar Albanian and Serb communities, with manuals in hand, assemble for the first day of training in Vucitern, Kosovo on 7 September.
(AP photo - 52Kb)
We have substantial key tasks ahead of us, among them facilitating a
political process to determine Kosovo's future.
The Head of UNMIK is the most senior international civilian official
in Kosovo. The authority of my position comes from the UN Security Council,
which established UNMIK on 10 June 1999 under resolution 1244, and which
also authorised KFOR to enter Kosovo. Ultimately, our job is to provide
this region with a vision. UNMIK is trying to do that through its "four
pillars": four international organisations and agencies working together
in an unprecedented structure under the umbrella of the UN. They implement,
together with the Kosovo people, the civilian aspects of rehabilitating
and reforming the region.
These four pillars are: civil administration, under the United Nations
itself; humanitarian assistance, led by the UNHCR; democratisation and
institution-building, under the OSCE; and economic development, managed
by the EU. At the same time, UNMIK works closely with KFOR in coordinating
their joint efforts. I meet daily with KFOR Commander General Jackson.
Dr. Kouchner and KFOR Commander Lt. General Sir Mike Jackson give a joint press conference in Pristina on the situation in Kosovo on 25 July.
(Reuters photo - 54Kb)
Significant gains have been made in the past 11 weeks in all these areas,
and we have set up structures to include the Kosovo people, not only to
provide expertise but also to share responsibility and accountability
for the development and future of the region. Leading this is the Kosovo
Transitional Council, established on 16 July, which meets weekly in Pristina.
This council is the highest political consultative body under UNMIK. It
gives the main political parties and ethnic groups - including the Kosovo
Democratic League, the Kosovo Liberation Army, members of the Serb, Bosniac
and Turkish communities, independents and other Kosovo representatives
- an opportunity to have direct input into UNMIK's decision-making process.
It is also a forum for achieving consensus on a broad range of issues
related to civil administration, institution-building and essential services.
The fact that this multi-ethnic council was established within weeks of
the end of the conflict in Kosovo can be regarded as a significant achievement.
UNMIK is deploying 3,150 armed UN civilian police in the region from
dozens of countries. The two main goals of the UN International Police
(UNIP) are to provide temporary law enforcement, and to develop a professional
and impartial Kosovo Police Service (KPS), trained in democratic police
As of 1 September, there were 866 international police in Kosovo, of
which 713 had been deployed. Of these, there were 360 in Pristina, 38
in Mitrovica, 25 in Pec, 31 in Prizren, and 25 in Gnjilane. More than
150 were undergoing induction training. UNIP has deployed 84 border police
and a further 26 are used for KPS training. The first permanent police
station has opened in Pristina and sub-stations have been set up in parts
of the capital designated as "high-risk" areas. UNIP officers
have begun joint patrols with KFOR and UNIP is taking over KFOR's detention
A Pakistani member of the UN International Police (UNIP) stands beside eight newly-appointed judges to the district court of Pec-Peja - seven Kosovar Albanians and one Serb - as they are sworn in on 7 September.
(AP photo - 47Kb)
Already, the Civil Administration has, among its achievements, provided
stipends for thousands of public employees - including judges, prosecutors,
health workers and custom officials; opened border control points on the
Albanian and Macedonian borders, including customs offices; established
a legal Advisory Council to review existing legislation and draft new
laws which would eliminate discrimination; set up a trust fund for small-scale
"quick impact projects" that will help Kosovo's people return
to normal life; assisted in the return to work of Serb railway workers;
started radio broadcasts from Radio-Television Pristina; reopened the
main Post and Telecommunications office and five sub-offices in Pristina;
and, set up a garbage collection and disposal system in Pristina. International
civil administrators and staff are working throughout the five regions
of the territory - Pristina, Pec, Mitrovica, Gnjilane and Prizren - which
cover 29 municipalities.
The UNHCR, responsible for the second pillar of UNMIK, is coordinating
the work of the humanitarian community, ensuring that Kosovo's people
will have adequate shelter, food, clean water and medical assistance.
A priority of UNHCR is to drive the preparations for winter. The lead
humanitarian agency has helped deliver tents, mattresses, blankets, soap,
kitchen sets, jerry cans and stoves to the people of Kosovo, and as part
of its "winterisation programme" it is providing tools and materials
to residents of damaged homes, so that families have at least one weatherproof
room for shelter this winter. Also, UNMIK is planning a special "cash
for housing" scheme in which it will provide money to individuals
ready to do their own immediate housing repairs.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has completed an assessment
of 718 schools, and found 446 have been damaged, of which 113 have been
completely destroyed and 147 have been severely damaged. But from 1 September,
383 schools reopened throughout Kosovo, with more than 100,000 students
attending classes. Working with implementing partners, UNICEF is also
rehabilitating school buildings and has already supplied many schools
with several thousand notebooks, pencils, chairs and desks. The World
Health Organisation (WHO), along with UNICEF and various non-governmental
organisations (NGOs), has distributed drug kits for distribution throughout
the territory, and WHO has been a crucial player in the reintegration
of the Pristina hospital.
Children attend a maths lesson on the first day of school in an unfinished classroom in Negrovce on 1 September. The main school building was burned down by Serbs during the Kosovo conflict.
(AP photo - 83Kb)
Under the third pillar of UNMIK, the OSCE has set up a police school
to train members of the new Kosovo Police Service. It is also monitoring
human rights, organising the judiciary system and media development, and
training local administrators. Because security has been an urgent concern,
the setting up of UN International Police and establishing the KPS have
been priorities. Candidates for the KPS have been recruited from Kosovo's
different ethnic communities. The new OSCE-run KPS School at Vucitrn opened
on 21 August and the first multi-ethnic intake of 200 male and female
trainees began basic training in early Sep-tember. OSCE is also deploying
human rights officers to monitor the human rights situation throughout
Kosovo. They have unhindered access to all areas to investigate human
The fourth pillar of UNMIK, run by the EU, is working on creating a modern,
well-functioning market economy. This includes constructing and operating
a budget that allows for basic public functions to be performed; instituting
a payments system; dealing with issues such as the use of multiple currencies
and exchange rates; creating an appropriate regulatory environment for
the banking system; kick-starting industry with grants and credits; ensuring
that charges are collected for public utilities; and, setting up regulators
in sectors such as telecommunications to grant licences.
The fourth pillar is also addressing immediate needs for shelter, power
and water supplies during the coming winter and coordinating the efforts
of donors in these areas. It is progressively taking over from the humanitarian
pillar, particularly in reconstruction of damaged housing, and from KFOR
in public utilities, notably power and water. A major donor is the European
Commission, the EU's executive arm, which has established a "Task
Force in Kosovo", with a budget of $150 million in 1999, of which
the first tranche of $48 million has already been allocated to the most
urgent projects. A detailed damage assessment, including a study of infrastructure
problems in various sectors, will be the basis for a medium-term development
programme. This will be presented at a donors' conference in October.
Substantial progress has been made on the civilian side, and KFOR is
making commendable efforts under extremely problematic conditions to provide
a safe security environment. In fact, the number of cases of harassment,
beatings, murders and other crimes has diminished in the past month. Those
crimes were occurring at a much higher rate in the first few weeks of
the mission's deployment, when the region was swamped by an enormous return
of refugees and displaced persons, many bent on revenge. However, crimes
still occur and they cannot be controlled until we have an effective policing
system. For that we require ongoing international involvement in both
support and training.
Kosovo's security and prosperity, however, will depend not only on the success of KFOR and policing efforts. It will also depend on ensuring that the workforce has jobs; that the young return to school and university; that people have the means by which to grow and develop; and that they have reason to hope. It will be a slow process, and it will emerge only after the heavy cloud of intolerance darkening this region finally clears.