May 2011 Monthly Forecast

EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In May the Council is expecting the UNMIK quarterly report, a briefing by Special Representative and head of mission Lamberto Zannier and a debate on the situation in Kosovo.

Key Recent Developments
In a 19 April letter and concept note sent to the Secretary-General, Serbia requested the creation of an ad hoc mechanism, under the authority of the Security Council, to conduct a criminal investigation into allegations of trafficking of human organs in Kosovo. The allegations were initially presented in a report by Dick Marty, rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, alleging that Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi had been involved in organised crime, including drug trafficking and the illegal trafficking of human organs, during his time as a Kosovo Liberation Army leader. The letter states that all investigations into war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia have been conducted under the auspices of the Security Council and that “this basic standard of justice should be applied in the case of the harvesting of human organs as well.”

Also on 19 April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said while visiting Belgrade that Russia would back Serbia’s request to the Security Council.

In response to the request, a spokeswoman for EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said on 21 April that the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) “is fully capable and in the best position to carry out an investigation into the organ trafficking.” During his 16 February briefing to the Council, Zannier also called for an investigation of the allegations and noted that EULEX was ready to undertake the probe.

On 8 and 9 March, Kosovo and Serbia met in Brussels for the first of a series of EU-mediated bilateral talks. The talks focused on technical and practical matters concerning day-to-day life, such as property laws and telecommunications, as well as regional trade and freedom of movement for goods. The EU characterised the talks as having taken place “in a constructive and cordial atmosphere.” The delegations met for a second round of talks in Brussels on 28 March and for a third round on 15 April. The talks addressed only technical concerns and avoided Kosovo’s status. Going forward, the delegations will continue to meet in Brussels once every three weeks.

On 22 February, Kosovo’s parliament elected Behgjet Pacolli as president. Later, on 30 March, Kosovo’s top court ruled that Pacolli’s election had been unconstitutional due to irregularities in the voting process and Pacolli resigned from the post. The development threatened to send the country back to the polls until Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and its coalition partner, New Kosovo Alliance (AKR), reached an agreement with the leading opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), on the appointment of Atifete Jahjaga, a former police commander, as President on 7 April ending weeks of political turmoil. Constitutional and electoral reforms were also agreed to by the parties. These agreements have mapped out an early presidential election within six months of the constitutional changes, meaning that later this year voters will directly elect their president. General elections should take place no later than 18 months after the electoral system reform.

Kosovo’s first census in 30 years was conducted from 1 to 19 April. Many ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo boycotted the census despite the fact that UN officials were sent there to register people in place of Kosovar officials. Ethnic Serbian leaders in northern Kosovo declared in early April that the census would only be acceptable to the Serbian minority community if members of the UN Mission in Kosovo conducted it. The Serbian government had also advised Kosovo Serbs to boycott the census unless it was organised by the UN, citing fears that Kosovo’s authorities could manipulate the results. The results of the census are expected to be announced in late June.

Human Rights-Related Developments
In its latest annual report on human rights in Kosovo, the US State Department expressed concerns about the number of missing persons. Citing figures compiled by the International Committee of the Red Cross, a total of 1,822 people are still missing in Kosovo, of whom 70 percent are ethnic Albanians and 30 percent are Serbs and other minorities. According to the report, institutional and societal discrimination remains endemic in Kosovo against Serbs and other minorities in employment, education, social services, language use, freedom of movement and the right of return.

Key Issues
A key issue is whether Council members want to use the opportunity in May to encourage the EU-sponsored technical talks.

Another key issue is how best to respond to the allegations presented in the Marty report, taking into account Serbia’s request for the establishment of an ad hoc investigative mechanism, supported by Russia, as well as other options.

Options
One option would be to adopt a statement welcoming the EU-brokered talks and encouraging continued dialogue on the issues between the parties.

Another option would be to adopt a statement regarding the Council’s response to Serbia’s request concerning the Marty report.

Council Dynamics
All Council members believe that the allegations brought forth in the Marty report are serious in nature and necessitate further investigation.

The US, while stressing the seriousness of the allegations, feels that EULEX, and not the Council, is the appropriate authority to oversee investigations into the allegations.

Russia supports the Serbian request for the establishment of an ad hoc investigative mechanism by the Council and feels that EULEX currently does not have the capacity necessary to undertake an investigation and ensure adequate witness protection. Russia also supports the involvement of UNMIK.

On the issue of status, the Council remains divided between those who formally recognise Kosovo as an independent state and those who do not. France, the UK and the US recognise Kosovo, as do non-permanent members Colombia, Germany and Portugal. Many other Council members continue to remain neutral.

UN Documents

Selected 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.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • S/2011/256 (19 April 2011) was the letter from Serbia to the Secretary-General requesting the creation of an ad hoc mechanism to conduct a criminal investigation into allegations of trafficking of human organs in Kosovo.
  • S/PV. 6483 (16 February 2011) was the most recent debate on Kosovo.
  • PACE Resolution 1782 (25 January 2011) was on investigating allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.
  • A/64/L.65/Rev.1 (8 September 2010) was the General Assembly resolution welcoming EU-mediated talks between Serbia and Kosovo.
  • A/64/876 (27 July 2010) was the letter from Serbia to the Secretary-General outlining Serbia’s position concerning the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion.
  • A/64/881 (26 July 2010) was the ICJ advisory opinion on the accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.

Useful Additional Source
Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo, Dick Marty, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 12 December 2010

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