Kosovo Roadmap (II) : Internal Benchmarks
Kosovo Roadmap (II) : Internal Benchmarks
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue
How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue
Report 125 / Europe & Central Asia

Kosovo Roadmap (II) : Internal Benchmarks

Since Kosovo became an international protectorate under United Nations administration in June 1999, much has been done to stabilise the province and set up a functioning administration. Yet nothing has been done to address the central question that lay at the heart of the conflict in Kosovo, and which remains the issue of overriding importance for the province’s inhabitants: the issue of final status.

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A Kosovo Roadmap

Since Kosovo became an international protectorate under United Nations administration in June 1999, much has been done to stabilise the province and set up a functioning administration. Yet nothing has been done to address the central question that lay at the heart of the conflict in Kosovo, and which remains the issue of overriding importance for the province’s inhabitants: the issue of final status.

The UN Resolution that established the interim system in Kosovo left the issue of final status open. Nor has the international community shown any appetite to address it. Yet it remains intensely controversial. The majority Albanians are unanimous that Kosovo will never again be subject to Serbian (or Yugoslav) sovereignty, while the minority Serbs, supported by Belgrade, are equally adamant that Kosovo must be restored to Serbian sovereignty, albeit with a large measure of political autonomy.

In examining Kosovo’s final status, the International Crisis Group argues that the issue has two aspects, inseparable and overlapping but nevertheless distinct. The ‘external’ dimension involves the interests of, and relationships between, the different actors with a stake in Kosovo’s future, while the ‘internal’ dimension concerns the development of Kosovo’s own democratic institutions, laws and standards.

These dimensions are duly treated in a pair of reports sharing a common title, A Kosovo Roadmap, issued simultaneously and subtitled I. Addressing Final Status and II. Internal Benchmarks. Together, these reports show two, parallel paths which need be negotiated simultaneously in order to reach the desired destination: a stable, democratic Kosovo, standing on its own feet, peacefully integrated in its region, and with a clearly defined place in the international community.

In Addressing Final Status, ICG argued that the stakes in Kosovo today are simply too high to leave the issue unaddressed. A potential for further regional conflict exists, and the international community cannot afford to leave Kosovo or the region in a state of uneasy and potentially dangerous limbo just because the issues involved are awkward.

Accordingly, that report argued, the international community should proceed to address the question, having in mind that the most appropriate solution would likely be a version of conditional independence under a form of international trusteeship.

Internal Benchmarks

One of the main arguments offered for not addressing the status question is the weakness of Kosovo’s institutions – including the Assembly, its ministries and the criminal justice system – and the inability of these institutions to protect the rights of the Serb and Roma minorities. 

The present report, Internal Benchmarks, reveals that Kosovo indeed requires further preparation for any form of final status. The slow establishment of self-government institutions after the election of a new Assembly on 17 November 2001 reveals the inexperience of Kosovo’s political parties and the deep fault lines that divide Kosovo society.  In addition, the criminal justice system does not yet have the capacity to investigate and prosecute crimes in a truly impartial and effective manner.  Minorities continue to lack freedom of movement and the economic and social opportunities that such freedom brings. 

The onus is on UNMIK, as well as on the international community and Kosovo’s leaders, to fulfil their obligation to develop autonomous institutions for whatever final status awaits Kosovo.  Democratic, effective, and ethnically representative government institutions must and can be built. 

In this spirit, the report outlines benchmarks for Kosovo’s internal development – standards that should be met by its institutions, and principles that should govern the treatment of its citizens, in particular its minorities.  For instance, the Assembly must be accountable to its electorate and able to process legislation. The civil service should be apolitical and transparent with the capacity to administer its sector of responsibility. The government must also have the capability to collect revenue and manage a Kosovo-wide budget to support its institutions. 

An efficient, independent and impartial criminal-justice system, with the competence to investigate and prosecute crimes, is also vital if the rule of law is to become firmly rooted. Another crucial benchmark by which Kosovo’s fitness for self-rule will be judged is that minorities should be able to live in security and dignity, without discrimination. Displaced persons must be able to return to their homes, and if they choose not to return, their property rights have to be protected. 

Such benchmarks are – as this report shows – indispensable for assessing Kosovo’s internal progress. However, while the achievement of these standards must influence the timing of the implementation of an agreed final status, it should neither delay decisions on status nor determine what form it should take. The fact that much remains to be done internally is no reason to delay a formal consideration of the relative merits of different options for final status.

Much further work is needed to reach these benchmarks.  The capacity of Kosovo’s judiciary, police service and penal systems needs to be strengthened, training for the civil service undertaken, accountability of Assembly members to their electorate enforced, and the rights of minorities protected.  To make progress towards these benchmarks, the international community must remain engaged in Kosovo and committed to its institutional development.  Kosovo’s leaders in turn must recognise their fundamental obligation to push this process forward.

Pristina/Brussels, 1 March 2002

How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue

Online Event to discuss Crisis Group's report "Relaunching the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue", in which we discussed what currently stands in the way of a new status quo and what it will take to relaunch the process with the Pristina elections in view.

Thirteen years after Kosovo broke away from Serbia, the two countries remain mired in mutual non-recognition, with deleterious effects on both. The parties need to move past technicalities to tackle the main issues at stake: Pristina’s independence and Belgrade’s influence over Kosovo’s Serbian minority.

In this conversation, we discussed what currently stands in the way of a new status quo and what it will take to relaunch the process with the Pristina elections in view.

How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue (Online Event, 28th January 2021)

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