In her Pulitzer Prize winning account of genocide, Samantha Power lays bare the very real threat of forsaking a people after catastrophic, widespread violence. She argues: “Citizens victimized by genocide or abandoned by the international community do not make good neighbors, as their thirst for vengeance, their irredentism, and their acceptance of violence as a means of generating change can turn them into future threats.”
To avoid this prediction, and in an effort to stabilize, democratize, and ensure the protection and promotion of human rights in Kosovo, the international community committed itself to an extended stay in the territory, to found a new institutional order based on the democratic principles of a free society. Yet, finding the balance between local group socialization, political administration in a ‘status-neutral’ setting, transparency and legitimacy within a ‘benevolent autocracy’, and the contradictions of protecting and promoting a human rights regime via ‘dictatorial’ reserved powers proved all but impossible for the Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
By analyzing the politics of ‘status,’ implementation of democratic theory, and the promotion and protection of human rights, this study aims to highlight the historical, political and legal contexts and consequences of the policies, structure and competences of UNMIK from 1999-2008. Furthermore, with the launch of the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo in early 2009 – by systematically appraising three major deficiencies of the UN administration, one can lay out the most urgent thematic and practical steps needed for the ultimate success of the mission as a whole; and in so doing, fulfill the UNSCR 1244(1999) mandate by achieving real stability and democracy in the region. Whatever the ultimate conclusion to the Kosovo question is, it must reflect the new reality of the systemic order.
Kosovo, like many states before, has fallen victim to the perception that traditional state-sovereignty is the only solution. However, this paper posits a more nuanced approach, suggesting that perhaps what is necessary for a durable peace is a new perspective: one which emphasizes the benefits of trans-national ties and minimizes the need for strict traditional sovereignty. In this vein, it is the European Union which offers the best possible solution. Not only does it have the institutional knowledge acquired in the tenure of the UN administration, but it also has the rhetorical, political, and economic strength to bind both Priština and Belgrade towards a mutually beneficial future within the Union (in whatever State-form) precisely by reducing the emphasis on nationalist interests.
Stefan Ducich recently completed his MA in International Relations from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.