January 2010 Monthly Forecast

EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In January the Council is expecting a report from the Secretary-General on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNMIK, Lamberto Zannier, is scheduled to brief the Council towards the end of the month.

The format of the briefing is likely to follow that of recent Council discussions on Kosovo, with representatives from Serbia and Kosovo participating in a formal meeting. (Serbia participates under rule 37 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure. Kosovo participates under rule 39, by which the Council can invite a person to provide it with information.) No Council action is expected.

Key Recent Developments
From 1 to 11 December 2009, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held public hearings on the Kosovo question. (In October 2008, the General Assembly asked the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence.) In addition to Serbia and Kosovo, 27 UN member states participated in the hearings, including all the P5. It was the first time that China appeared before the Court.

Arguments in the hearings focused on several points. One was the status of international law regarding declarations of independence. Another was the legal effect of Security Council resolution 1244 (which in 1999 authorised NATO to enforce the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo) and whether a new decision by the Council might be required.

At the end of the hearings the Court set a time limit for written submissions of 22 December 2009 on various questions. The Court is now expected to issue its advisory opinion sometime in the first half of 2010.

Sixty-four states have now formally recognised Kosovo’s independence.

The Council last discussed the situation in Kosovo on 15 October 2009 when it was briefed by the Special Representative on the Secretary-General’s 30 September 2009 report. Zannier said that the political situation and the parties’ differing views on UNMIK’s role had substantially affected the implementation of the mission’s mandate. The mission was therefore focusing its efforts on issues relating to minorities, dialogue and reconciliation, and external relations. The situation in the north remained a concern. The number of returns to Kosovo of internally displaced persons from minority communities was far below what had been hoped for, and UNMIK was working with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to promote further returns. Zannier also pointed out that the parties seemed increasingly conscious of the impact any actions might have on the proceedings in the ICJ.

Municipal elections were held on 15 November 2009 followed by a second round on 13 December. These were the first elections since Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the first to be held without the assistance of either UNMIK or the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Of the 74 entities participating in the elections, 22 represented Kosovo Serbs. Serb voter participation was negligible in the north, but higher in the south than in previous elections. The two parties of the governing coalition, the Democratic Party of Kosovo and the Democratic League of Kosovo, won a majority of municipalities in the first round. Preliminary results indicated that this was also the case in the second round.

According to international observers, the elections generally met international standards and took place in a calm and orderly atmosphere. After the second round, however, the Election Commission on Appeals and Complaints asked for an election rerun in three municipalities after investigations revealed serious irregularities.

Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command Naples, whose areas of operation includes southeastern Europe, indicated during a visit to Belgrade on 16 December 2009 that the improved security situation would permit reductions in the troop level of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) and that withdrawals would start in January with the goal of reduction to 10,000 troops. Fitzgerald said that further reductions would be considered later, depending on the security situation.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 9 December 2009, OSCE published a report covering the period from January 2008 to June 2009 on progress being made by Kosovo institutions towards the protection and integration of national minorities. It discussed law enforcement, the return and security of displaced persons, use of languages, education and participation in social and political life. According to the report, integration challenges include deficiencies in the security and justice system in prosecuting ethnically motivated crimes, and lack of proper conditions for return and repatriation. The report called for more compliance with laws governing cultural and religious rights, use of languages, and education, as well as for improved representation of communities in public broadcasting.

Key Issues
An issue for the Council is whether to continue with its current approach on Kosovo with quarterly UNMIK reports from the Secretary-General and open briefings by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative or whether to reduce the frequency or change the format of the meetings from an open briefing to informal consultations.

Another issue is UNMIK’s mandate, in particular relating to the six-point dialogue outlined in the Secretary-General’s 12 June 2008 report covering the areas of police, courts, customs, transportation and infrastructure, boundary management and protection of Serbian patrimony.

A further issue is the ongoing impact of the ICJ proceedings on the willingness of the parties to take flexible positions.

Options
One option is for the Council to simply receive the briefing and for members to express their national positions on the issues.

Another option would be for the Council to address the issue of the future frequency and format of the meetings. (Resolution 1244 only requests reporting at “regular intervals”, so changing the reporting cycle does not require any formal Council decision.) Because this issue is controversial, a compromise solution offering something to both sides seems likely to be necessary. In this regard an option might be agreement on fewer formal meetings, but a more active role by the Council in the situation in Kosovo in an informal or “interactive dialogue” setting.

Council Dynamics
The Council is still divided between those who support Kosovo’s independence and those who believe that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence violated international law. Some maintain a more neutral position. As a result of the changes in Council membership as of 1 January, only six Council members (the US, the UK, France, Austria, Japan and Turkey) recognise Kosovo’s independence as opposed to nine in 2009. It remains to be seen whether this will influence discussions, and in particular what role Bosnia and Herzegovina will seek to play on this issue as an incoming elected Council member from the region.

An important feature of the dynamics on this issue is that a number of members see Kosovo as a low priority.

Russia prefers the status quo. It supports the ongoing role of UNMIK and a credible UN presence in Kosovo, particularly for coordination and political leadership roles.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1244 (10 June 1999) authorised NATO to secure and enforce the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo and established UNMIK.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/44 (26 November 2008) welcomed the Secretary-General’s 24 November report and the cooperation between the UN and other international actors within the framework of resolution 1244.

Selected Letters

  • S/2008/638 (2 October 2008) transmitted the report on the operations of KFOR from 1 to 31 July 2008.
  • S/2007/168 and add. 1 (26 March 2007) transmitted UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s report on Kosovo’s future status and the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

Other

  • S.PV.6202 (15 October 2009) was the debate on the Secretary-General’s 30 September report with a briefing by the Special Representative.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Lamberto Zannier (Italy)

UNMIK

  • Size of mission: 510
  • Cost: $47 million (2009-2010 budget)

KFOR (NATO FORCE)

  • Force Commander: Lieutenant General Markus J. Bentler (Germany)
  • Size of mission: 12,631 troops (as of 12 October 2009)

Full forecast