November 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 October 2011
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action
In November the Council is expecting the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) quarterly report, a briefing by the new Special Representative and head of mission, Farid Zarif, and a debate on the situation in Kosovo.

No Council action on Kosovo is expected in November.

Key Recent Developments
In recent months, northern Kosovo has experienced heightened tensions after a border dispute erupted in late July.

Violence and tensions began on 25 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 Serbian products. One Kosovo police officer was killed in clashes with protesting ethnic Serbs.

Following the incident, the NATO-led Kosovo force (KFOR) brokered an agreement with Pristina to temporarily seize control over the posts. When KFOR’s mandate to control the posts expired on 16 September, officials from Kosovo and the EU rule-of-law mission (EULEX) took over the crossings. Ethnic Serbs put up barricades on roads close to the border checkpoints in response to the deployment of Kosovo and EULEX staff at the checkpoints.

On 26 and 27 September, ethnic Serbs again clashed with KFOR troops who were attempting to dismantle the barricades which blocked roads leading to the contested border points. Reports indicated that 16 ethnic Serbs and 4 NATO peacekeepers were injured and that NATO troops had used tear gas and rubber bullets after pipe bombs were thrown. There were reports that NATO forces had fired live ammunition.

On 30 September, Serbia sent a letter to the Council requesting a UN investigation into the 27 September incident, in which “members of the International Security Force in Kosovo acted in violation of the authority given to their mission under Security Council resolution 1244“.

On 20 October, KFOR troops, attempting again to dismantle erected barricades, clashed with Serb protesters at two border crossings in northern Kosovo. The troops fired tear-gas canisters and used armoured vehicles during the confrontation. Reports indicated that at least 22 people required treatment for tear-gas inhalation and 3 required hospitalization. Eight soldiers were also wounded, according to KFOR.

Council members met several times on Kosovo after the border tensions erupted in July:

  • on 28 July, in consultations to hear a briefing by the Secretariat on the initial border incident after Serbia requested an open meeting of the Council;
  • on 14 September, in consultations to discuss a request by Serbia that an urgent meeting with participation from the Serbian government be held ahead of the expiration of NATO’s mandate to control the border posts;
  • on 15 September, to receive a briefing by the Secretariat with both Kosovo and Serbia present, followed by closed consultations; and
  • on 28 September, at Russia’s request, to receive a briefing by the Secretariat on the events of 27 September.  

A special investigative task force of EULEX has begun an investigation into the allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo contained in a report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The allegations were initially presented by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty, who asserted 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.

On 11 October, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Farid Zarif as the new head of UNMIK.

Human Rights-Related Developments
Following the death of a key witness in a war-crime case in Kosovo on 28 September, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed its concerns about witness protection in Kosovo and called for an independent witness- and victim-protection system to be put in place. OHCHR said that only an effective and well-resourced witness and victim protection system could help bring justice to victims and end impunity for past violations in Kosovo.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is the role it can play in defusing the mounting tensions.

A related issue is how to respond to the events of 27 September.

A further issue is how Council members can use the opportunity to reinforce the need for parties to resolve all outstanding disputes through dialogue.

Options
One option is simply to receive the briefing and hold a debate, allowing each side to state its position.

Another option would be to adopt a statement concerning the recent border events. This may include condemning unilateral actions and the use of force and encouraging parties to resolve all outstanding issues, including customs and border concerns, through negotiations.

Council Dynamics
Council members were divided on whether the recent increase in meetings on the situation in northern Kosovo has been warranted. Russia generally strongly supports Serbia’s requests for increased Council engagement, while others, including the US, are reluctant to increase Council activity on the issue.

Russia also supports the Serbian call for a UN investigation into the events of 27 September, though this is likely to encounter considerable resistance from other Council members.

Russia also continues to support the Serbian request for the establishment of an ad hoc investigative mechanism by the Council into allegations of organ trafficking. The US, while stressing the seriousness of the allegations, maintains that EULEX, and not the Council, is the appropriate authority to oversee investigations into the allegations.

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

Selected Meeting Records

Letters

  • S/2011/604 (30 September 2011) was from Serbia requesting a UN investigation into the 27 September incident.
  • S/2011/575 (14 September 2011) was from Russia requesting an emergency public meeting of the Council due to border tensions in northern Kosovo.
  • S/2011/574 (14 September 2011) was from Serbia requesting an urgent meeting of the Council due to border tensions in northern Kosovo.
  • S/2011/363 (17 June 2011) transmitted the most recent report on the NATO force in Kosovo, KFOR, covering the period 1 January to 31 March.
  • S/2011/256 (19 April 2011) was 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.

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.
  • 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

Farid Zarif (Afghanistan)

UNMIK

Size of mission: 418 personnel (146 international staff, 8 military staff, 28 UN volunteers and 236 local staff)
Cost: $44.915 million (1 July 2011-30 June 2012 budget)

KFOR (NATO force)

Force commander: Maj. Gen. Erhard Bühler (Germany)
Size of mission: 8,454 troops (as of 7 November 2010)

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