August 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 July 2011
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action
In August the Council is expecting a debate on the situation in Kosovo.

Key Recent Developments
The Council held an urgent meeting on tensions in northern Kosovo on 28 July, following a Russian-backed Serbian request after an outbreak of violence along the Kosovo-Serbia border. At the time of writing it appeared that the Council would be briefed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on the situation. It was unclear whether or not an open meeting would be held. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was expected to meet with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following the consultations.

One Kosovo officer was killed on 26 July after Kosovo police seized two border posts, Brnjak and Jarinje, along the frontier with Serbia in order to try to enforce a newly instituted trade embargo against all Serbian products. The embargo was imposed on 20 July in retaliation for Serbia’s refusal to recognise Kosovo’s documents and customs stamps. (Kosovo also introduced a 10 percent tax for imports from Bosnia which also blocks exports from Kosovo.) On 21 July Serbia said it would ask the European Commission and UN to mediate the dispute. Serbian president Boris Tadic, commenting on the events on 26 July, said that Belgrade will not use force to resolve the conflict. Commander of NATO’s Kosovo force, KFOR, Erhard Bühler, met with leaders in northern Kosovo on 27 and 28 July in an attempt to ease tensions. On 27 July NATO took control of the two border posts.

The EU and US on 26 July criticised the Kosovo operation, saying that the government should have consulted with its Western allies who have troops on the ground and called on Pristina and Belgrade to restore calm. The US Department of State issued a statement urging both sides to refrain from the use of violence and urging both parties to “return to the negotiating table immediately”.

At the most recent round of EU talks between Kosovo and Serbia, held on 2 July in Brussels, agreements were reached for the first time in several areas: on civil registry and freedom of movement (the parties agreed to allow freedom of movement of respective citizens who carry identity cards or driving licenses issued by the other side, but excluded passports) and the acceptance of university and school diplomas. This outcome built on discussions in previous meetings, held in March, April and May. The next round of technical talks is expected in September.

Following the July talks, some Kosovo Serbs opposed the agreements, claiming that they reinforced Kosovo’s claims to statehood. Some 600 Kosovo Serb representatives met in Mitrovica on 4 July to call on Serbia to stop its talks with Kosovo and to end its cooperation with EULEX. The representatives approved a document that described the negotiated agreement as an act of “national treason and against state interests.”

Belgrade rejected calls to end the dialogue with Pristina. Serbian Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović said in a 12 July statement that Belgrade would not withdraw from the dialogue and that talks were the only means to solving problems faced by Serbs, along with the issue of Kosovo’s status. Bogdanović said that the agreements reached in Brussels did not prejudice the status of Kosovo in any way, stressing that Serbia would never recognise an independent Kosovo. Currently 77 UN member states have recognised Kosovo.

Serbia continues to call for an international inquiry into the allegations implicating Kosovo rebels in the trafficking of human organs in the late 1990s. The allegations, initially presented in a December 2010 report by Dick Marty, rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), allege 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. PACE, on 25 January called for an investigation of allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in organs based on the Marty report.

On 23 June Russia circulated a draft Security Council resolution on behalf of Serbia that requested the creation of an ad-hoc mechanism, under the authority of the Security Council, to investigate allegations of trafficking of human organs in Kosovo. Council members have since met for several rounds of consultations on the draft, which has been subsequently amended. Consultations on the text are expected to continue. Previously, on 19 April, Serbia had circulated a letter and concept note sent to the Secretary-General requesting the creation of the investigative mechanism.

On 6 July, Serbia submitted a draft resolution to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly (PA) entitled “Combat against illegal human organ trafficking,” which requested a “comprehensive and independent international investigation under UN auspices and mandate into kidnappings and crimes that were aimed at removing and selling human organs” in Kosovo in 1999. The draft resolution called on EU and UN missions and relevant international institutions to cooperate in investigating allegations and submitting information.

On 9 July, the OSCE PA subsequently adopted a resolution recommending the establishment of closer co-operation, including exchange of information, and more efficient actions by the institutions of the OSCE-participating states in combating illicit trade in human organs. It also called for a comprehensive investigation of abductions and crimes connected with the removal and sale of human organs allegedly committed in Kosovo during the armed conflicts in the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999 and immediately afterwards and invited full co-operation with the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), as well as the relevant national institutions.

The last briefing to the Council on the situation in Kosovo was on 12 May. Special representative to the Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier stated that he supported the call by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly for a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into allegations of inhumane treatment of people and illicit trafficking of human organs in Kosovo and said UNMIK “remains fully available to cooperate with such an investigation.” Zannier also stressed that the EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia are of crucial importance.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 25 May, the Political and Security Committee of the EU formally approved the establishment of a task force to investigate alleged crimes in Kosovo and Albania after the Kosovo war. The special investigation is charged with examining allegations of abductions, disappearances, executions, organ trafficking and other serious crimes and will examine the alleged involvement of former commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army and current Kosovo leaders, including Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Key Issues
A key issue is whether Council members will use the opportunity in August to reinforce the need for further progress in the technical talks.

An underlying issue continues to be a division in the Council over the end point of the process and the long-term status of Kosovo.

The allegations presented in the Marty report remain an issue and Serbia’s request for the establishment of a UN investigative mechanism continues to be controversial.

Options
One option is simply to receive the briefing and hold a debate, allowing each country to state its positions, as in recent practice.

A second more proactive option is to adopt a statement following up in more detail discussions in the consultations on 28 July and addressing the need for such issues to be resolved by negotiations rather than unilateral action by either side. It could also welcome the agreements made in recent technical talks and encouraging continuing dialogue on the issues between the parties.

Another option would be to include in any statement language addressing the organ trafficking allegations and expressing support for prompt and thorough investigation and deciding to keep it under review.

A fourth option would be to request the Secretary-General to initiate an investigation using UN resources.

Council Dynamics
Council members were divided on whether the 28 July meeting on the situation in northern Kosovo was warranted. Russia strongly supported Serbia’s call for the meeting, while the US and UK felt the issue could wait until the Council’s regular debate on Kosovo in August.

All Council members seem to agree that the allegations concerning organ trafficking brought forth in the Marty report are serious and necessitate further investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.

Some Council members, including the US, UK, France and Germany, feel that EULEX, and not the Council, should oversee investigations into the allegations.

Russia supports the Serbian request for the establishment of an ad-hoc UN investigative mechanism 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. China also favours the option of a UN-mandated investigative mechanism.

On the issue of the status of Kosovo, the Council remains divided.

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.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • OSCE PA Resolution AS (11) Res 18 E (9 July) recommended the establishment of closer co-operation and more efficient actions by the institutions of the OSCE-participating states in combating illicit trade in human organs.
  • S/2011/363 (14 June 2011) was the letter transmitting the most recent report on the NATO force in Kosovo, KFOR, covering the period 1 January to 31 March.
  • S/PV.6534 (12 May 2011) was the most recent debate on Kosovo.
  • 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.
  • PACE Resolution 1782 (25 January 2011) was on investigating allegations of inhumane 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.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Vacant at press time

UNMIK

Size of mission: 421
Cost: $44.915 million (1 July 2011- 30 June 2012 budget)

KFOR (NATO force)

Force commander: Maj. Gen. Erhard Bühler (Germany)
Size of mission: 8454 Troops (as of 7 November 2010)

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