Official texts

  • 10 Jun. 1999 - UNMIK
    UN Resolution 1244 (PDF/24Kb)

PDF Library

  • KFOR contributing nations and troop numbers (as on 12 June 2008 ) PDF/892KB
  • Feb 2005 - NATO
    NATO Briefing: Bringing peace and stability to the Balkans (PDF/1057Kb)
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NATO's role in Kosovo

NATO has been leading a peace support operation in Kosovo since June 1999 in support of wider international efforts to build peace and stability in the area.

Today, over 14 000 troops from the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) are still deployed in Kosovo to help maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origin.

Following the declaration of independence on 17 February 2008, the Alliance reaffirmed that KFOR shall remain in Kosovo on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, unless the United Nations Security Council decides otherwise. In June 2008, NATO agreed to take on new tasks in Kosovo to support the development of professional, democratic and multi-ethnic security structures,

Throughout Kosovo, NATO and KFOR will continue to work with the authorities and, bearing in mind its operational mandate, KFOR will cooperate with and assist the UN, the EU, in particular EULEX, the EU Rule of Law mission in Kosovo, and other international actors, as appropriate, to support the development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo. 

KFOR’s objectives

KFOR deployed in the wake of a 78-day air campaign. This air campaign was launched by the Alliance in March 1999 to halt and reverse the humanitarian catastrophe that was then unfolding.

FOR derives its mandate from UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244 of 10 June 1999 and the Military-Technical Agreement (MTA) between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia. KFOR is operated under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and, as such, is a peace enforcement operation, which is more generally referred to as a peace support operation

Initially, KFOR’s mandate was to:

  • deter renewed hostility and threats against Kosovo by Yugoslav and Serb forces;
  • establish a secure environment and ensure public safety and order;
  • demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army;
  • support the international humanitarian effort;
  • coordinate with and support the international civil presence.

KFOR’s presence has been crucial in maintaining safety and security for all individuals and communities in Kosovo. Today, KFOR continues to contribute towards maintaining a safe and secure environment in Kosovo for the benefit of all citizens.

KFOR’s tasks

Initial tasks

KFOR tasks have included assistance with the return or relocation of displaced persons and refugees; reconstruction and demining; medical assistance; security and public order; security of ethnic minorities; protection of patrimonial sites; border security; interdiction of cross-border weapons smuggling; implementation of a Kosovo-wide weapons, ammunition and explosives amnesty programme; weapons destruction; and support for the establishment of civilian institutions, law and order, the judicial and penal system, the electoral process and other aspects of the political, economic and social life of the province.

Special attention continues to be paid to the protection of minorities. This includes regular patrols near minority enclaves, check points, escorts for minority groups, protection of heritage sites such as monasteries, and donations including food, clothes and school supplies.

New tasks

On 12 June 2008, NATO agreed to start implementing its new tasks in Kosovo, i.e assist in the standing down of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and in the establishment of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), as well as the civilian structure to oversee the KSF. These tasks are implemented in close coordination and consultation with the relevant local and international authorities.

Stand-down of the KPC

The KPC was conceived as a transitional post-conflict arrangement, under the responsibility of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Its mandate was to provide disaster response services, perform search and rescue, provide a capacity for humanitarian assistance in isolated areas, assist de-mining and contribute to rebuilding infrastructure and communities.

Dissolution of the KPC is taking place in parallel with the creation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) to ensure that key capabilities continue to be available for emergency situations.

The KPC ceased its operational activities on 20 January 2009 and will be formally dissolved on 14 June 2009.

Those KPC members not recruited into the KSF will be resettled, reintegrated or retired with dignity. A resettlement programme funded by a NATO Trust Fund is being implemented by a local partner Non-Governmental Organisation (APPK) under the supervision of the UN Development Program (UNDP).  

Stand-up of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF)

NATO is responsible for supervising and supporting the stand-up and training of a multi-ethnic, professional and civilian controlled KSF. The Kosovo-wide  recruitment campaign for the KSF started on 21 January 2009 . Reaching out to Kosovo’s minority communities and encouraging them to apply for the KSF remains a priority.

The KSF shall be a lightly armed force and possess no heavy weapons, such as tanks, heavy artillery or offensive air capability. 

The KSF shall have primary responsibility for security tasks that are not appropriate for the police such as emergency response, explosive ordnance disposal and civil protection. It may also participate in crisis response operations, including peace support operations.

This professional, all-volunteer force will be trained according to NATO standards and placed under civilian-led, democratic control. To date, the recruitment process has reached out across society and was carried out in two official languages: Albanian and Serbian. In the end, the KSF will comprise no more than 2 500 active personnel and 800 reservists. Training activities and courses started on 2 February 2009. The aim is for it to reach initial.

Establish a civilian-led body to supervise the KSF

NATO assists the authorities of Kosovo in establishing a ministry for the Kosovo Security Force. Primary responsibility for this task rests with NATO HQ in Brussels; KFOR is tasked to support the NATO Advisory Team that has been established in Pristina.

The ministry for the KSF will be a civilian-led organization that will exercise civilian control over the KSF. The minister for the KSF, through his ministry, will exercise day-to-day responsibility for the KSF.

Command and structure of KFOR

KFOR completed its transition from four Multinational Brigades (MNB East, MNB Center, MNB Northeast, MNB Southwest) to five Multinational Task Forces (MNTF)  in June 2006:

  • Multinational Task Force (MNTF) Centre based in Lipljan;
  • MNTF North based in Novo Selo;
  • MNTF South based in Prizren;
  • MNTF West based in Pec;
  • MNTF East based in Urosevac.

KFOR’s transition process was aimed at improving the effectiveness of the forces and their ability to operate flexibly throughout Kosovo without restriction. In addition, it placed more emphasis on intelligence-led operations, with MNTFs working closely with both the local police and the local population to gather information.

The MNTF come under a single chain of command, under the authority of Commander KFOR (COMKFOR). COMKFOR reports to the Commander of Joint Force Command Naples (COM JFCN), Italy.

The evolution of NATO’s role in Kosovo

KFOR deploys

UN Security Council Resolution 1244 was adopted on 10 June 1999 and on 12 June, the first elements of the NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, entered Kosovo. By 20 June, the withdrawal of Serbian forces was complete.

KFOR was initially composed of some 50 000 men and women from NATO member countries, Partner countries and non-NATO countries under unified command and control. By early 2002, KFOR was reduced to around 39 000 troops. The improved security environment enabled NATO to reduce KFOR troop levels to 26 000 by June 2003 and to 17 500 by the end of 2003.

Renewed violence

A setback in progress towards a stable, multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo occurred in March 2004, when renewed violence broke out between Albanians and Serbs. At that time, KFOR troops were under attack. An additional 2500 soldiers were rapidly deployed to reinforce the existing KFOR strength. 

At the 2004 Istanbul Summit, NATO leaders condemned the renewed ethnic violence and reaffirmed NATO’s commitment to a secure, stable and multi-ethnic Kosovo.

The Kosovo status talks

After 14 months of UN-led negotiations, the Special Envoy for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, presented his Comprehensive Proposal for a Kosovo Status Settlement to the UN Secretary General in March 2007. Whilst Pristina endorsed the Ahtisaari Proposal, Belgrade categorically rejected it.

On 1 August 2007, in the absence of any UN Security Council decision on Kosovo’s future status, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched an extended period of engagement with the parties, led this time by an EU, Russia, US Troika under the auspices of the Contact Group. By the end of the Troika’s mandate on 10 December 2007, the negotiating parties failed to reach any agreement on Kosovo’s status.

Throughout the negotiations, NATO supported the efforts of Martti Ahtisaari and, subsequently, those of the Troika to settle Kosovo’s status; KFOR helped maintain safety and stability on the ground allowing the negotiations to proceed without disruption.

In December 2007 NATO Foreign Ministers agreed that KFOR would remain in Kosovo on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, unless the Security Council decides otherwise. They also renewed their commitment to maintain KFOR’s national force contributions, including reserves, at current levels and with no new caveats. 

At the Bucharest Summit in April 2008, NATO heads of state and government agreed that NATO and KFOR will continue to work with the authorities. They also agreed that, bearing in mind its operational mandate, KFOR will cooperate with and assist the United Nations, the European Union and other international actors, as appropriate, to support the development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo. They also stressed that NATO stands ready to play its part in the implementation of future security arrangements.

At their meeting on 2-3 December 2008, NATO Foreign Ministers reaffirmed that the robust, UN-mandated NATO-led KFOR presence will remain in Kosovo on the basis of UNSC resolution 1244. They stressed that the prompt deployment of the European Union’s Rule and Law mission (EULEX) throughout all Kosovo is an urgent priority, and in this context noted the adoption by the UN Security Council of a statement of its presidency in support of the reconfiguration of UNMIK. They reaffirmed that NATO will continue to work towards the standing down of the Kosovo Protection Corps and the establishment of the Kosovo Security Force on the basis of NATO’s voluntary trust funds.