Kosovo (UNMIK)

Currently in Kosovo

Military Personnel

8

Police

8

Civilian Personnel

356

Mission Mandate

In 1999, the UN launched UNMIK to help establish a Kosovar government, with legitimate authority and capacity. The mission works to facilitate an inclusive society for all ethnic groups after 11,000 people were killed, mostly of Albanian descent. Peacekeepers assist in the development of democratic institutions, coordinate humanitarian relief, and promote human rights. In 2008, once the government was established and stable, UNMIK transferred the authority to Kosovo. Encouraged by progress made in the last decade, both NATO and UNMIK continue to downsize their presence.

Background

Kosovo coverUntil the 1980s, Kosovo was a semi-autonomous province of Yugoslavia, made up of a majority of Muslims of Albanian descent and a minority of Christians of Serbian ethnicity. When Yugoslavia was dissolved, the new president of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic manipulated ethnic divisions and stripped Kosovo of its autonomy in 1989. A war erupted between Kosovo and Serbia in 1998-99 wherein ethnic cleansing of Albanians was attempted and was ended by a NATO bombing campaign.

The UN created UNMIK in 1999 to launch an interim government in order to allow Kosovo to establish its own responsive democratic government with legitimate authority and capacity. It also mandated several thousand peacekeeping police and military officers to disarm groups, maintain peaceful communities, and promote human rights. Once the national government was established and officially independent from Serbia, UNMIK transferred governmental authority over to Kosovo in 2008, with support from EULEX.

Today, UNMIK continues to deploy a small number of troops to maintain peace and facilitate an inclusive society for all ethnic groups. Although Serbian and Albanian relations within Kosovo are tense, the government has made an effort to engage with the country’s minority populations. In 2010, Kosovo held successful democratic elections without UNMIK assistance. Kosovo and Serbia signed the Brussels  Agreement in 2013, aiming to normalize relations between the governments. This EU-brokered agreement resulted in Serbs maintaining their own police and appeals court, but voting for the same local government bodies as the Albanians.

Although certainly possible, national reconciliation is still tenuous, as there are still disagreements that have not been resolved. Reconciliation will require great continued effort from Kosovo, Serbia, and the international community. In October 2015, disagreements in the Kosovar parliament became dangerous when the opposition party threw tear gas in the government’s chamber, to protest agreements made with Serbia.

How This Affects U.S. Interests