Kosovo: Preparing for after the war


Report for the Kosovo Working Group of the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support

drafted by Howard Clark, April 1999. Section 6 revised June 1999.


This paper is concerned with the civilian aspects of enhancing the prospects for peaceful co-existence between Albanians, Serbs and other ethnic groups in Kosovo - or parts of Kosovo - when return becomes possible. It argues that preparations for this can begin now, with various kinds of work with groups of refugees, and that long term peace depends on developing programmes for the economic revival of Kosovo itself and of its neighbours in every direction - including Serbia. The need is to address the present emergency in ways which offer hope for a better future.

The recommendations are addressed to all those interested in restoring peace in Kosovo, but are written as if for the benefit of international funders, including government departments and the putative international body responsible for the implementation of any peace agreement.

The design for civilian implementation of any peace agreements needs to be prepared now. In this context, the central recommendation of the report (see Part 6) is to make plans for an internationally financed Peace Commission, staffed by Albanians, Serbs and internationals, playing both a monitoring and a policy-developing role, and with branches throughout Kosovo.

Other recommendations suggest:

  • an international consultative conference on peace-building in Kosovo, with governmental, agency and NGO representation
  • the urgent need to begin preparing an international civilian presence in Kosovo, concerned with issues of reconstruction, development and peace-building, and drawing lessons from previous experiences in the region
  • the need for community development in all the communities of Kosovo - Albanian, Serb/Montenegrin, Roma, Croatian, Slav Muslim and Turk
  • the need to resume inter-ethnic dialogue at every level
  • the importance of supporting those refugees already trying to revive community organisation, and in general of preparing people who are now refugees to play the primary role in the reconstruction of their society
  • the need to offer a variety of training opportunities both to Albanians and Serbs
  • the need to look at ways of using relief and reconstruction work as an avenue for inter-ethnic trust-building



It is not clear how the war in Kosovo and Yugoslavia will be brought to an end, and still less what context that will leave for the safe return of Kosovo refugees, for any resumed co-existence in Kosovo, or what timeframe should be considered. This is one of those classic cases where anyone asking "how can we get to peace in Kosovo" should expect the answer "well, I wouldn't start from here".

A companion paper written for the Kosovo Working Group of the CCTS - "Where Now" by Hugh Miall - addresses the immediate possibilities for military de-escalation. This section of the current paper discusses what might be the most favourable scenario for peace in Kosovo.

a) Need for a peace process

Kosovo is one of the clearest illustrations of the lack of concerted preventative policies among intergovernmental bodies. During the seven years of stagnation in Kosovo, there were occasional international gestures towards Kosovo - the CSCE mission of 1992-93, establishing a UNHCR office in Prishtina when there were comparatively few refugees in the region and, after Dayton, the US establishment of its Information Office. Despite all the warning signs, however, there was a lack of engagement, an absence of a any policy about how to initiate some kind of peace process - just a line: human rights, yes; restored autonomy, yes; independence, no. Public and media concern was, of course, directed more towards what was happening in Bosnia, but there was no shortage of warnings about what could happen in Kosovo. Now, any peace programme will need to endeavour to work with the same elements as it would have done previously, but in a much worse context in every respect.

The form of peace agreement that ends the current hostilities will have an impact on the prospects for building peace afterwards. The proposed Rambouillet agreement cannot be taken for granted. The Serbian side will only sign it in order to stop the bombing campaign destroying their infrastructure, and some of the Albanian signatories have already said that the events of March and April means that the agreement has now been superseded.

Because the disagreement between the Serbian and Albanian points of view on the status of Kosovo is so intractable, this is not an issue to be decided by "banging heads together". Rather it is one where, as was previously widely recognised, there needed to be a process. The post-Dayton approach of the Community of San Egidio, with international support, was to take the issue of education - a particularly central issue in this conflict - and try to break the deadlock over that. While in September 1996 San Egidio succeeded in brokering an agreement between Milosevic and Rugova, there was no progress in implementing this until 1998, after the Drenica massacres. By this time, those Kosovo Albanians who had tried to create a pressure for progress on education - especially teachers and students in the parallel university - had reached the conclusion that a more comprehensive settlement was necessary.

b) A transitional administration

This paper is written with the assumption that Kosovo will be placed under some form of international transitional administration and that this administration would also be accompanied by an international military protection force. The optimum would be to establish an international administration - under the auspices of the UN or the OSCE - with funding guaranteed for a minimum of five years. Its tasks would include not only administering the reconstruction of Kosovo and supervising the safe return of the refugees, but also engendering an environment conducive to a peaceful process of decision-making about Kosovo's future constitutional position. Its work in Kosovo would be accompanied by an economic aid programme for the Balkans addressing the problems not just of Kosovo, but of its neighbours - including Serbia and Montenegro.

The direct responsibility for investigating war crimes would not fall on this administration in view of its need to deal with community representatives on either side who may be accused of crimes. Already the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague is seeking to address this problem. In addition, there need to be compensation procedures, and there is a case for hearings inside Kosovo under a heading such as Truth and Reconciliation. We suggest that advising on this should be one of the tasks of the Peace Commission we proposed in Section 6.

We would suggest a moratorium on negotiations about the future constitution for the first three years of this international administration. Then any negotiations should proceed in a framework that excludes neither proposals from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that accept the demographic reality of Kosovo nor the demand around which the Albanian majority population of Kosovo have united - independence. The negotiating process would involve many types of consultations including granting a voice to the full range of minority groups inside Kosovo - not only Serbs and Montenegrins, but also Roma, Slav Muslims, Croatian Catholics, and Turks - and gives a hearing to the concerns of Kosovo's other neighbours. As preparation for such negotiations, the international administration would work to develop or revive a variety of forums for democratic decision-making within Kosovo.

Such a task could not be carried by an international civilian body that was the 'poor relation' of the military protection force, as was the case with Carl Bildt's office in Bosnia after Dayton. Rather the civilian work should be properly resourced and staffed. One suggestion in response to an earlier draft of this paper was for a centralised coordinating body for implementing any peace agreements, perhaps under OSCE auspices. This would be responsible for implementing both the civilian and the military implementation of any peace agreement, although evidently the military would always retain some autonomy. The headquarters in Prishtina would coordinate a network of regional and local offices (with a minimum of one office for each municipality). Every local office should be available to the public and have between 100-150 staff, on a ratio of 1:3 international to local. Major governmental donors could second staff to the field offices not only to allocate relief and reconstruction aid but to observe the work of implementing partners.

An alternative or complementary approach could be to initiate a civilian body called, for instance, the Council for Reconstruction and Development, primarily comprising representatives of local bodies (Albanian, Serb and other) and primarily with local staff, but internationally funded and with some senior international representatives and some international staff. It would operate both through a network of relatively small local offices (perhaps sharing premises with the Implementation Office) and through specialist working sub-groups on health, education, industry, agriculture, governance, including peace-building. In view of the mixed performance of international bodies elsewhere in the region, and the widespread inadequacy of their channels for local consultation, such a structure could play a useful additional role or even be a completely civilian alternative structure.

A transitional administration for Kosovo as a whole could be the 'optimal scenario'. However, conflicts in the Balkans are not noted for producing 'optimal scenarios', and we note that there are also various scenarios envisaging different types of partition of Kosovo. Indeed it is widely believed that the main objective of Serbia's military operations in the last year has been to secure a favourable partition of Kosovo. Here it is worth pointing out that if communities do need their own administrations, there are alternatives to territorial segregation - such as the Belgian model with each linguistic/ethnic community having autonomy in organising education, welfare and such matters.

Whatever is negotiated - or whatever is gained or relinquished in war - we believe that many of our suggestions remain relevant provided there is an irrevocable international commitment to the safe return of the people of Kosovo to their homes and to the reconstruction and development of Kosovo - a commitment commensurate to that which was required to launch military action.

As UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata has argued (Financial Times, 20 April):

Planning must be accelerated for a long-term solution to the Kosovo crisis. It is clear that the only solution for the vast majority of refugees - and for the many thousands displaced in Kosovo itself - will be voluntary repatriation. Any other approach would serve to endorse the ethnic cleansing that has already taken place. Thought must also be given to the enormous task of reconstruction and reconciliation.


  • to make public the existing discussions over the design of the civilian implementation of any peace agreement


Naturally, most international humanitarian efforts at the moment are responding to the immediate emergency. This paper tries to put the immediate, emergency work responding to the humanitarian catastrophe into the context of a long-term view of some desired future for Kosovo. It is based on a recognition of the resilience shown by Kosovar community structures over the years since the annulment of Kosovo's autonomy, and of the desire of displaced people to shape their own future.

At the NATO summit in Washington in April, heads of NATO member states proclaimed their commitment to the post-war reconstruction and development of Kosovo, to the safe return of the refugees, and to a programme of regional economic development. The physical reconstruction of Kosovo has to go hand in hand with the re-building of decision-making structures - from community structures up to political structures, and the redevelopment of at least some shared social space.

Our general approach here is that immediate work with displaced people can be pursued with an eye to future reconstruction and community development, that community development programmes are needed in all the communities of Kosovo - among Albanians, Serbs, and other ethnic groups - and that such programmes can strengthen the basis for inter-ethnic cooperation.

a) International consultation

The first task is to help Kosovo Albanian organisations and structures re-group even while they are in exile. This has been recognised by several governments. After a meeting with her US, French, German and Italian counterparts, Britain's minister for International Development, Clare Short, confirmed that 'finding out who, where, what kind of expertise they have, who will sit on the committees in towns and villages, that kind of thing will start now ... We want to make sure everything is ready as soon as the military conditions are ready.'

This attitude is a welcome sign. However, it should be noted that there are European governments, not least those of Sweden and Norway, with a closer, more active and longer engagement in Kosovo than the EU members represented in London. Indeed, it is unfortunate that the British DfID and its forerunners did not have a desk on Kosovo until after the massacre at Drenica.


  • to organise a multi-level process of international consultation, perhaps with national coordinations feeding into an international conference or conferences
  • to bring together governmental and intergovernmental bodies with agencies and NGOs engaged on the ground in Kosovo since before Drenica

b) Learning from the experience of the OSCE KVM

The OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission warrants close evaluation. It deployed a large number of unarmed verifiers with the intention not only of de-fusing certain flashpoints, but with a Democracy Division responsible for encouraging civil society initiatives. If it could not turn the tide back away from war, it was at least a restraining factor on Milosevic. There were a number of problems which could have been surmounted with more time for preparation, availability of better trained personnel, and more consistent recruiting policies between participating countries. The lack of the resources of the central coordination of the OSCE itself was also a factor.

Two specific problems were around recruiting and local impact. The OSCE KVM was not able to recruit many staff with significant local knowledge and did not last long enough for them to acquire such knowledge. Moreover, the experience of those who had worked in other parts of the region was often not attuned to the particularity of Kosovo - those who had worked in Bosnia, for instance, were often predisposed to underestimate the level of local self-organisation among Kosovo Albanians. Certain countries prioritised personnel with military experience, others scratched around for whoever they could send, while few looked for personnel with experience or training in unarmed conflict management.

Clear policy guidelines around issues of local impact and a code of conduct for outside agencies could have prevented certain mistakes. For instance, the short-term thinking of the KVM - and other international bodies - in recruiting so few Serbs exacerbated the existing Serbian distrust of international engagement in Kosovo and has now apparently backfired on Albanian employees who are said to be particular targets for the ethnic cleansers. (The reason that recruitment favoured Albanians was the need for local staff who could speak English, Albanian and Serbian. There are very few Serbs who can do this, and there was no time for them to learn.)

In the hope that a civilian deployment with some similarities is likely, it is important to learn lessons from the KVM.


  • to recognise the urgency of making good preparations for any future international civilian deployment
  • to conduct a detailed evaluation of the OSCE KVM - its policy guidelines, recruitment, preparation, the impact of its 'invasion' on the two local communities, and its actual functioning - with a view to enhancing the capacity to mount such international unarmed operations and to draw up guidelines for their preparation and conduct (NB: in view of the turnover of OSCE staff, such an evaluation should not be delayed)
  • to begin recruiting and training now for suitable international civilians in anticipation of any decision about international civilian deployments for a transitional administration in Kosovo


At the time of writing, more than half the population of Kosovo is displaced - refugees or those who could be called more precisely "deportees". Most displaced people have managed to leave Kosovo, but many remain at risk inside. There are large refugee encampments in Macedonia and Albania. The majority are children - children up to 14 years of age comprise about 35 per cent of the population of Kosovo.

Quite rightly, there is a reluctance to disperse the refugees. However, conditions in the transit camps have been compared to prisons, where refugees are not permitted to enter and exit - unsanitary prisons at that. Moreover, refugees have experienced hostility from the Macedonian police and have had problems with gangsters in the Kukes area of Albania. Both Macedonia and Albania - as well as Montenegro - are at their limits.

Refugee agencies were initially unprepared for such a large and sudden influx of refugees. In the face of the continuing arrival of more refugees, they are struggling to meet the refugees' urgent physical needs, and to coordinate the basic level of sharing information, let alone develop a coordinated strategy. Psycho-social support is a recognised need, which medical bodies and Unicef are seeking to address, for instance with trauma counsellors arriving. Testimonies are being collected to prepare for war crimes trials in the Hague.

Certain Kosovar non-governmental organisations have also resumed work, especially in Macedonia. These include the Mother Theresa Association, the Centre for the Protection of Women and Children (using premises found by the local League of Albanian Women), and other women's groups such Aureola, Elena and Motrat Qiriazi. The largest circulation Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore, has now resumed production in Tetovo.

Refugee teachers have set up spaces in some camps to provide school lessons for the children. Camps have TV rooms (tents) and some have internet facilities to help track down refugees. There are few entertainments - sometimes not even playing cards or chess sets - although a Prishtina theatre group is reported to be giving daily performances in camps in Macedonia. At least one camp in Macedonia (Radusa) has a women's tent in order to create a women's space independent of any role as mothers - the TV room tends to be monopolised by men.

Many Albanian refugees need little encouragement to look for the brief military training offered by the Kosova Liberation Army in Albania. Bujar Bukoshi - a delegate at Rambouillet who since 1992 has had the title of "prime minister" of the Bonn-based government-in-exile of the Republic of Kosova - has condemned the KLA for preparing "cannon fodder" to send back into Kosovo. This is a further sign of the continuing conflicts and rivalries between Kosovo Albanian politicians. In Albania, KLA representative Hasim Thaçi heads a provisional government-in-exile, consisting solely of people who boycotted the parallel elections of March 1998 except that one seat has been left vacant, to be filled by a deputy prime minister to be nominated by the LDK


The Kosovar refugees are repeatedly presented to the world only as victims. Indeed they are victims, but they are more than this. There has been shamefully little publicity for those managing to make an active response to the situation of their community. Kosovo Albanians have strong patriarchal traditions and a deferential culture - this especially applies to certain rural areas. Nevertheless the years of nonviolent struggle have also shown them as resourceful and resilient people at least partly thanks to their strong community and familial structures. At the moment, Kosovo Albanians are suffering from what could be called a collective trauma. However, international humanitarian efforts also have to respond to the growing number of refugees who already have the will and the ability to participate in shaping their new situation and in planning for their future. Over time, more refugees will emerge from their nightmare and, if encouraged, will come forward to play a more active role.

a) A resource in the immediate situation

The most visible refugees are, of course, those now in the overcrowded camps of Macedonia and Albania, but they are actually just the latest and the biggest wave of refugees. Through most of the 1990s there were probably about 300,000 Kosovo Albanians living outside Kosovo, 15% of the population, a figure that rose by about half as a result of the fighting in 1998. Most of these have a will to contribute to the future of Kosovo.

The journalists of Koha Ditore have expressed an attitude that many others probably share, and that should be taken seriously by international bodies working with refugees.

"It is very important to show the world another image of the Kosovars than babies crying in refugee camps or old people dying of ill-treatment. It's vital to show that we Kosovars are a living people, despite what is happening, that we can still organise a political life and maintain the spirit of Kosovo. It's about keeping alive Kosovo's identity which we risk losing." (AFP, 23 April 1999)

Part of the process of reviving this spirit of self-respect is recognising the Kosovar's primary role in the work to recover from this emergency. This means using skills that Kosovars already have, and where necessary offering training previously not available to them.

Many doctors and teachers are already involved. It should be recognised, however, that since 1990 there have been severe limits on the training that could be organised inside Kosovo, and there are many partially trained medics and teachers who have their part to play. (Last year, medical students - members of the Health Commission of the Students Union, UPSUP - were imprisoned and tortured on the accusation of "preparing for war" because they offered first-aid classes to other students.)


  • Trauma, rape and torture:
    1. to train Kosovo Albanians as trauma, rape and torture counsellors - whether these be from the recent wave of refugees, or last year's, or refugees from earlier times. Rape is an especially sensitive topic, where women need support and some protection from the various bodies (journalists, nationalists, military and even humanitarian) who have something to gain from publishing sensational stories.
    2. to develop appropriate forms of group activity in response to trauma, rape and torture, recognising the collective nature of the experience. Even women who have not been physically violated or people who have not been physically tortured have felt threatened or humiliated, have felt part of the collective violation. The ethnic cleansing, as much else in recent years, has been an assault on people's identity, and as such group methodology would be appropriate. (See for instance Carlos Martín Beristain and Francesc Riera, Afirmación y Resistencia - la comunidad como apoyo, Virus 1992; this has been translated into English but not published.)
  • Children's experience:
    1. to offer Kosovo Albanian teachers at work in the refugee camps or elsewhere further training in participatory methodologies such as those used in the Unicef "Smilekeepers" programme. (This began work in Kosovo schools towards the end of last year, helping children to digest what they had witnessed.)
    2. to employ Kosovo Albanian and others to produce more engaging educational materials than have been available in Kosovar schools since the loss of autonomy
  • Drama, writing and art workshops:
    1. to recognise the power of such workshops - whether in camps or in more distant countries - to transform experience.
    2. to facilitate follow-up to the workshops such as performance or display space, the capacity to publish or make audio or video recordings.
  • Mine clearance:
    1. to offer training to Kosovo Albanians in how to clear land mines. Apparently the Albanian-Serbian border has been densely mined. Reports also suggest that other areas have been mined, although it is not known whether the mines have been planted randomly.
  • Entertainment and sport:
    1. to provide financial support and offer visas for groups of cultural or sporting performers from Kosovo to tour refugees communities, both in the camps in Macedonia and Albania and further afield
    2. to provide facilities for Kosovars to develop their talents
    3. to publicise the achievements of refugees as a way of encouraging self-respect rather than victim behaviour
  • Publications:
    1. to encourage a variety publications of magazines and to facilitate means of distribution throughout the refugee diaspora. The existence of a large majority of women among the adult refugees is an additional reason to pay special attention to publications for women.
    2. to help prepare the revival of the media which have developed even in the difficult conditions of the last year that have an inter-ethnic dimension

b) Economic activity

Another part of the process of reviving the Kosovar spirit is planning for the future. Aside from finding out about their loved ones, the first concern of most refugees will be their families' safe return to Kosovo and the reconstruction of their lives and society. However, the lives they lived before had been constrained, not simply by the fighting of the past year, but in the preceding eight years of police harassment and in Milosevic's policy of mass sackings of Albanians and asset stripping. All this, it should be remembered, has happened in what was the poorest part of Yugoslavia, the part with highest unemployment, the highest illiteracy rate, the highest birth rate and the highest infant mortality.

The most important economic document produced in Kosovo is the 1998 RIINVEST research report - Economic Activities and Democratic Development of Kosova (http://kosova.com/RIINVEST). This makes numerous suggestions about how to support the growth of small to medium-sized enterprises, including in agriculture and food storage and distribution, and in construction. The basic economic situation in Kosovo before the war was of dependence on income from family members in the diaspora and on importing food from Serbia to a net value of 490 million DM. Of the 325,000 families in Kosovo, around 175,000 remained in the villages.

Urban businesses formed the Association of Businessmen in Kosova (ABK) in May 1997. In autumn 1998, this was is in a position to make suggestions to international agencies about how to carry out some of the reconstruction work after the hostilities, including organising a one-key system for renovating damaged homes, and to offer the means to acquire various supplies for people needing humanitarian relief. However, the RIINVEST report points to a lack of business education and management training among the urban business community. Of the more than 18,000 registered businesses that sprouted after the mass dismissals of 1990-92, fewer than a third were functioning - there were many pizzerias, cafes and mini-markets, but hardly any businesses in the production sector.


  • In the spirit of reviving hope for the future development of Kosovo, and in order to accelerate the growth in Kosovo's capacity for economic self-organisation, governmental or EU bodies concerned with development should create opportunities for businesspeople from Kosovo to develop their management skills and to begin planning how to develop their businesses on their return, including up to the point of securing credits for particular projects.
  • In the spirit of fostering local self-reliance, international agencies to cooperate with local construction businesses in the work of physical reconstruction and renovation of damaged property, with local suppliers in acquiring goods needed for humanitarian relief, and with local regulatory bodies - even if these are embryonic - in eliminating any aid 'profiteering'.
  • The question of increasing the Kosovars' capacity to meet their own food needs must go hand in hand with a return to the villages. This will involve not only growing more food, but also making storage and distribution more effective, and increasing greenhouse production to reduce the seasonal shortfall of fresh vegetables in winter.
  • to consider in detail the 18 agricultural programmes suggested by RIINVEST (programmes requiring an investment ranging from 15,000 DM to 200,000 DM) and to offer support to Kosovars looking to develop plans for the speedy introduction of appropriate programmes.
  • to organise visits of Kosovar farmers to sites using technology appropriate for their own for development. For instance, the forced closure of the large milk pasteurising plant in Kosovo Polje reduced Kosovo's capacity to pasteurise milk, thereby increasing health risks. Kibbutzim in Israel have the appropriate technology for local-scale milk pasteurisation, and there were plans to import this into Kosovo.

c) Training deficiencies

Bosnia and Croatia have witnessed a fashion-prone pattern of funding after their wars, with the circus moving on before its work is completed. In Kosovo, the area of former Yugoslavia most in need of economic and social development before Yugoslavia's disintegration, the parallel social structures have for nine years been 'making do'. The new funding about to become available for the development of Kosovo has to address not just the impact of war, nor even of what Kosovars experienced as the post-1990 'occupation', but even before that.


  • International funders to review applications from Kosovo civil society groups made in the pre-war period with a view to helping these groups get back on their feet and play an influential role in building civil society after the war
  • International funders to identify specific deficiencies in educational and training materials, for children and adults, and commission Kosovars now to begin preparing to meet these deficiencies. (It should be noted that the one magazine included in the curriculum of the parallel schools, Pionieri, was described in Koha as serving children with 'blood, death and sado-masochist verses'.)

d) Other communities

The suggestions made above concentrate on the Kosovar community, and specifically on helping it to re-group and re-orient itself towards the future. It is clear that there are also displaced Serbs and displaced members of other groups within Kosovo, displaced either in flight from NATO's bombs or from local military or paramilitary groups, and their homes too may have been destroyed or damaged. However, at this stage, there is not yet the international access to assess this situation.

The Serb community in Kosovo, it should be noted, relied heavily on central state structures and has lacked the organisation to improve its own conditions. Indeed in matters such as provision of medicaments or paying teachers, the Kosovo Albanian parallel structures served their people better than the state structures served the Slavs of Kosovo.


  • to look for forms of engagement in developing the capacity of the Serb community and other minority groups in Kosovo for self-organisation to meet their own needs and to continue doing this even where there is no willingness to cooperate across ethnic divisions
  • to offer training opportunities for Serbs interested in peace-building, either individual scholarships or, better, support for participation in groups with others from the region
  • to offer support for any Kosovo Serb publications or other media that may emerge with a commitment to trust-building

e) International civilian presence

A general point that should be borne in mind is that it is often the presence of international third parties that enables relief and reconstruction work to be converted into opportunities for inter-ethnic cooperation and trust-building. Within Kosovo, bodies such as Oxfam and the International Confederation of the Red Cross have had some success on this, while in Bosnia UN Development Programme's project in Gornji Vakuf has shown the value in post-war situations of a core of committed international workers.

We use the term "international workers" to include not just the professionals of the aid community, but also those with a specific motive for engagement in this situation. Both some Muslim and some Christian Orthodox charities are eager to play a non-sectarian role in Kosovo, although there is a tendency by other agencies to treat them with scepticism. The work of the International Orthodox Christian Charities in Kosovo has predominantly benefited the Albanian community but its religious commitment also gives them an entry point with the Serbian community which can be a considerable asset in trust-building.

Another category of international worker are "volunteers". As in the previous wars in former-Yugoslavia, there are now many volunteers who feel motivated to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe by going into this situation. In a suitable framework, such as the "Suncokret" refugee project founded in Croatia, which is now hoping to begin in Macedonia or Albania, volunteers have certain advantages over professional relief workers: they often form a better relationship with local people than professionals with an expat lifestyle and a short fixed-term contract. (NB: Here we distinguish between volunteers doing continuing work with a project in a precise locality and expeditions under names such as Mir Sada/Peace Now that are basically expressions of a feeling that 'something must be done'.)

A number of the international programmes formerly suggested for other areas preparing for refugee return - such as East Slavonia - again deserve consideration. It is less likely than in East Slavonia, the Krajina or parts of Bosnia that people will have moved into the homes vacated by displaced people. However, any conflicts over property will be exacerbated by the bureaucratic chaos following from the destruction by Serbian forces of Albanian identity and property documents.


  • to support projects that seek to use rehabilitation or relief as a form of trust-building, including building up international and inter-ethnic teams to engage in these
  • to facilitate cooperation between businesses on either side of the ethnic divide or inter-ethnic cooperation within companies
  • to consider supporting the establishment of at least one 'peace team' in every municipality to 'accompany' the return process. Each team to consist of ideally of two 'internationals', one Albanian, and one Serb. Preparing the return by sending photos and written descriptions of their former homes to the refugees, and then accompanying the refugees on their first return visit before moving back in, as well as on their actual return
  • to consider some form of international monitoring of the process of property registration
  • At this stage it seems unrealistic to envisage a return 'en bloc'. However, it may become appropriate to study the nonviolent international accompaniment of refugee return from Mexico to Guatemala. In January 1993, 78 buses of returning refugees - each bus with one or two international volunteers inside and accompanied by the marked vehicles of the UN, Médecins Sans Frontières, and other agencies - crossed from Mexico into Guatemala. (See Liam Mahoney and Enrique Eguren, Unarmed Bodyguards: International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights, Kumarian Press, 1997.) Such a scenario would in many ways be more helpful to prospects for the future than a return accompanied by the armed victors (be they NATO or the KLA).


Will Serbs and Albanians ever live together again in Kosovo? Perhaps Ms Ogata is too ambitious in speaking of "reconciliation".

a) The mixed legacy of history

Before discussing the recent changes, it has to be recognised that the last hundred years or more is littered with stories of massive violence between Serbs and Kosovo-Albanians. Serbs committed atrocities against Albanians in 1878 (driving them out of the area around Niš), 1913-14, 1919, and again in 1944. There were also campaigns of police harassment to intimidate Albanians into leaving Kosovo and to encourage Serbs and Montenegrins to settle in the 1920s, the 1930s and the 1950s (and indeed throughout the 1990s). Albanians, on the other hand, tried to settle scores in the final years of the Ottoman empire, during the Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian occupations of the First World War, and the Italian, German and Bulgarian occupations of the Second World War. Also, during the period of Kosovo autonomy, Serbs accused Albanians of abusing their dominance and driving Serbs and Montenegrins out of the province: this charge helped to relaunch Serbian nationalism in the late 1980s.

Such episodes have left a legacy of distrust. Ethnic relations in Kosovo should not be viewed through the same lens as those between the Slavic nations of former-Yugoslavia. Kosovar newspaper proprietor Veton Surroi used to say "it took a war to separate the Bosnians and the Serbs; here we are already separate".

There are two separate versions of history, each side stressing its own experience as a victim and its grievances against the other. Nevertheless, throughout the history of the Albanians in Kosovo, there are also counter-examples to the image of revenge-seeking that should be re-presented to the Albanian community once they regain their numerical dominance in Kosovo. In the histories on Kosovo by Miranda Vickers and Noel Malcolm published in English in the last year, one can find several occasions when Albanians have had the chance to take revenge on Serbs, but have distinguished between traditional neighbours and those people who've stolen their property or been part of an oppressive police force. Albanians have a strong traditional code and, even though modern war often has the impact of destroying traditional taboos and restraints, Albanians must be urged to live up to this code and not to seek indiscriminate reprisals. What will also be required, however, is confidence that in the procedures for bringing people to court for their war crimes and for granting compensation - an important topic not directly addressed in this paper.

While some Belgrade Serbs have diligently documented human rights abuses against Kosovo - most notably the Humanitarian Law Centre - they have not had much help from Kosovo Serbs. There were also very few instances of Serbs in Kosovo showing solidarity during the mass sackings of Albanians in 1990-92. I know of only two - both at the University. However, while this has meant that some sacked Albanians could not bring themselves to renew friendships across ethnic boundaries, many understood that this was a kind of behaviour to be expected at the time - a result not just of ethnic mobilisation but of years of repressive one-party politics. Some of the Albanians sacked who went into business found themselves after a year or two cooperating with former Serbian colleagues - and indeed it has been characteristic throughout the region that practical cooperation between businesspeople has continued when other inter-ethnic links have broken down.

b) New reasons for distrust

Perhaps the atrocities of the past month have destroyed irreparably what little trust there was between Albanians and Serbs inside Kosovo. There are many anecdotes about the ethnic cleansing that could be taken as suggesting that. Last year, there were several times when one would hear of a local agreement between traditional neighbours - Serbs and Albanians - but invariably the account would end with the breakdown of the agreement, either through manipulation by external forces (as apparently happened in Rahovec/Orahovac), or simply because of rumours and misunderstandings. These are the kind of stories that predominate.

An account by a Prishtina journalist in the IWPR crisis bulletin #12 illustrates the uncertainties and suspicions that are likely to beset many individuals. One day, after greeting a Serbian neighbour on the street, he was reminding himself not to generalise about all Serbs. Later, however, he was to see this same Serb with a band of others, armed and in strange uniforms, searching for Albanians to evict.

However, even now - alongside the stories of armed Serbian civilians and of Serbian neighbours helping expel Albanians - one can occasionally hear some refugees referring with gratitude to Serbian neighbours who are keeping an eye on their homes. Or of Serbian and Albanian patients in hospital together in Prishtina. Or of Serbian police officers going out of their way to warn Albanians about the imminent arrival of paramilitaries, such as the police chief from Lipljan who visited the village Ribar i Vogel.

On hearing such stories about Serbs, few Albanians will feel inclined to assume the best. Even when one tries to create "safe shared spaces", as projects such as the Nansen Group have, the effort to restore relations or to bridge a divide is bound to involve some risk. While some sort of truth-telling process - with both the right to reply and the obligation to reply - can address specific instances, and while it will be essential in laying the basis for co-existence, it will not be sufficient to dispel the pervasive atmosphere of suspicion.

c) Community attitudes

In the past, it has not been only personal distrust that has kept people apart but also conformity with the attitude of their community. When the Post-Pessimist youth group started in Prishtina, they were repeatedly denounced for their interest in contact with Serbs - one newspaper article dubbed them 'The Post-Pessimists of Serbia'. It was not until the Albanian figureheads of the time - Ibrahim Rugova himself and Adem Demaçi - visited them as a token of their approval, that such public sniping stopped (private jibes continued). Certain international agencies, pursuing practical relief or development projects that involved a degree of cooperation between Serbs and Albanians, would find they could make an agreement between the people immediately concerned, but there was often a danger of this being sabotaged by mischievous press reports from either side. Once the matter was in the public domain, parties to the agreement would again strike their normal public poses rather than deal with the practical issue at hand.

Albanians have repeatedly stated their willingness to guarantee the rights of Serbs - indeed, from Ibrahim Rugova down, there was talk of a willingness to discriminate in favour of the ethnic minority after independence. The Kosovo Albanians were careful to consider a form of democracy that offered minorities safeguards including certain rights to veto, that was more than mere majority rule. However, for obvious reasons, this has tended to be rather hypothetical - for instance, theoretically seats in the parliament of the Republic of Kosova were left vacant for Serb and Montenegrin inhabitants. A few Kosovo Albanian bodies - most prominently the Mother Theresa Association - have been proud of their willingness to help all those in need regardless of ethnicity. The Mother Theresa clinics offer free treatment and medicine, and as early as in their second year of existence found themselves treating a few Serbian patients, primarily children. In 1998, perhaps sensing that independence was coming closer, perhaps seeing that local Serbs felt threatened by impending international military action, perhaps encouraged by the interest of certain young Serbs in Belgrade, there seemed to be an increase in the number of Albanians willing to reassure Serbs of their place in a common future.

Paradoxically, the polarisation between the communities after the massacres in 1998 stimulated a few Kosovo Serbs to seek out Albanians: they wanted to talk with them because they wanted to stay living in Kosovo. The most organised response to that was from the Nansen group for dialogue.

Recent years have also seen a shift in attitude of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, in particular its leaders Bishop Artemije and Father Sava of the Decan Monastery. While the monks tend to be rather otherworldly, these church leaders have been increasingly critical of Milosevic's policies, and increasingly active in trying to maintain good relations with Albanians in Kosovo. Perhaps the best public moment in Serb-Albanian relations in the last year was when Adem Demaçi, then political representative of the UÇK, visited the Decan Monastery and was photographed shaking hands with Father Sava.

d) The future for Serbs

If there is partition, one can expect ethnic separation reinforced by territorial separation. However, if Kosovo remains one entity, there are several reasons for expecting a Serbian community to remain even in a predominantly Albanian Kosovo:

  • because a number of Serbs have expressed this desire;
  • because at least the Serbs connected with the monasteries will stay;
  • because there are not good alternatives, and in other areas where there has been vicious fighting, the Serbian people have often shown a strong attachment to their traditional homes, even when they are now discriminated against as a minority, as in parts of Croatia;
  • because Kosovo Serbs often face discrimination by Serbs in other parts of Serbia.

Some Serbs have already left Kosovo, and others will do so, whether in the face of the arrival of international military forces, to avoid being made to take part in Serbian military operations, or in the face of the return of Albanians. Unless there are indiscriminate reprisals from Albanians, we can expect that many of these Serbs will return once they have seen how the land lies and have also seen how difficult it is to make a life anywhere else. This is what is happening now in the Krajina, despite the Croatian government's lack of will to make this easier and despite the rather weak international engagement in the area. A worst case scenario could be that Serbs in Kosovo regroup, concentrating in one particular municipality and so creating a strong hold equivalent to Pale in the Bosnian Serb Republic, a hideout for war criminals from which they can continue trying to foment conflict in other areas.

Even in the midst of war, there have been brave statements by Belgrade civil society groups against the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and appealing for a multi-ethnic future. Also thousands of Serbs have fled to Hungary, including many draft resisters and others with a declared interest in working for peaceful co-existence. Perhaps some of these Belgrade groups or, on their return, some of the peace-minded exiles will be able to play a role in trust-building in Kosovo. However, it also has to be acknowledged that few have close connections with many Kosovo Serbs or Montenegrins.

e) Conflict between Albanians

On the Albanian side, there are dangers too. The worst case is that it proves impossible to bring the KLA under political control, that gun law and gang violence spreads, bringing further turmoil in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. Even if one discounts the stories about the KLA being funded by drug money, it is clear that the KLA has had to engage in arms smuggling and that some local KLA commanders have links with gang leaders in northern Albania. Even if the worst case does not transpire, there are various factions in the KLA, and some commanders have shown scant regard for democracy, have displayed a propensity to threaten rather than reason, and have killed Albanians as "collaborators" on fairly flimsy pretexts. If the credibility such commanders gain in the field allows them to step into a power or organisational vacuum, the prospects for democracy are not good. Indeed, there could be a real danger that ethnic conflict in Kosovo is compounded by conflict within the Albanian community.

The best case is that Kosovars will begin to reorganise their lives now, that civil society bodies will fill any vacuum of initiative or leadership, and that leaders will gain credibility less from battlefield exploits than from their work in developing a new programme for Kosovo. This, it should be pointed out, is not to sideline people aligned with the KLA but merely to recognise the existence of a spectrum of Albanian opinion. While there may be some desire for score settling, ultimately one hopes that their better traditions and the restraining influence of some of their wiser leaders will prevail, and Albanians will distinguish between the war criminals who have taken part in the ethnic cleansing and those Serbs who have tried to keep their involvement to a minimum.

Such a best case and its prospects for peaceful coexistence cannot be assumed. Rather it will have to be an explicit policy objective, and one to be conscientiously pursued.

f) Albanian experiences in de-fusing conflict

A key dynamic at the beginning of the Albanian nonviolent campaign was the desire to demonstrate that 'we are not as the Serbs portray us' - backward, bestial rapists, etc - 'but we are different and even better than our oppressors'. Peaceful coexistence will not be possible unless, when the Albanians return to Kosovo and are in a position to dominate the remaining Serbian population, they demonstrate a higher morality than that of the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing.

It will be worth reminding Albanians - and informing international agencies - of several of experiences that could be referred to.

1990-92: the campaign to reconcile blood feuds. Initiated by students from Pec/Peja and with two venerable figureheads - the late Anton Çetta and a Catholic priest, Don Lush Gjergji. his involved a core of about 500 activists visiting villages, talking with families engaged in blood feuds, and later hold mass meetings to witness the 'reconciliation'.

March 1990: following the mysterious incident in which over 7,000 children were believed to have been poisoned, there were groups of Albanians who wanted to lynch the Serbs they suspected were responsible. Activists from the Youth Parliament (later the Parliamentary Party) successfully remonstrated with them.

1990 onwards: representatives of the Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Democratic League of Kosova would visit the scene of incidents of police violence, urging the population not to be provoked into counter-violence.

1990 onwards: Not trusting the courts, Kosovo Albanians relied on their own arbitration procedures. For instance, in six years, the Gjilan Community Council to Avoid Negative Phenomena settled 541 of the 778 disputes brought before it.


At the time of writing, the military scheduling for implementation of the peace agreement has been accorded paramount importance, and it is not yet clear what Civilian Implementation structures will be created nor what relevance can be accorded to the civilian provisions of the Rambouillet document. The Rambouillet talks took place at a time when the numbers of displaced were only a fraction of what they are now. The document proposed the OSCE as the international body responsible for Civilian Implementation, and envisaged elections after nine months. The section on policing provides for a lightly armed force of no more than 3,000 police, built up commune by commune, all police being required to be trained at a new Police Academy, and the work of the police to be monitored by an ombudsman and a Criminal Justice Commission.

Now the UN will be responsible for Civilian Implementation, and the UNHCR for organising the return. The UNHCR's recent performance has been widely criticised by other refugee agencies. While it has been handicapped by the lack of financial contributions, its coordination has been weak and it has allowed a military body - NATO - to have an unprecedented level of involvement in the refugee camps. It is to be hoped that those in charge of Civilian Implementation can effectively and rapidly assert their authority as the situation now develops. They also need to recognise that trust-building after the war cannot be treated as an 'optional add-on', to be dealt with by civil society groups and funded by whatever means they can scrape together. Rather, it needs to be treated as a central policy objective, with staffing and resources to match. This should not need saying, yet the experiences in various parts of Bosnia and Croatia indicate that it needs emphasis.

At the seminar in London on 25 May organised by the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support, several participants argued on the basis of experience in Bosnia-Hercegovina and in East Slavonia, that the whole Civilian Implementation Process should be coordinated by a Peace Commission. Otherwise, the work for peace would be obstructed - by local bodies pursuing sectarian interests - or marginalised - by the bodies concentrating on physical reconstruction or a type of order based on imposition rather than consent.

Perhaps the moment for proposing such a structure has already passed. In any case, the type of Peace Commission proposed here is somewhat different from that. It would be a body engaged both in monitoring performance and in developing policy. It would be a structure with strong local input established in the international framework of Civilian Implementation but expected to continue in the period of transition after elections and during the construction of local democratic institutions.

The Proposal here then is to set up an independent, internationally financed body, probably a department within the UN structures for administration. It would begin as part of the civilian framework for implementation, but there would be no time limit on its continuation. Initially, the Peace Commission would probably only have offices in the major towns, each with some field officers, but the aim would be to build up a network with offices in all the 28 municipalities of Kosovo.

The Peace Commission would be headed by a respected Kosovo Albanian and (if a suitable person can be found) a respected Kosovo Serb, and would have both local and international staff. The heads - and indeed the local staff at the municipality level - should be what John-Paul Lederach describes as "insider-partial" figures, people with influence and with access to the leadership of their own community. It would draw on and aim to empower a sector of society particularly targeted by Serbian nationalist policy in recent years: middle level leadership. Staff should be drawn from both communities (and each would be required to pass a proficiency test in the language of the other community after six months in post), and also from minority groups. While there would probably be no shortage of potential Albanian recruits for these posts, it would be more difficult to find appropriate local Serbs, even for the head office in Prishtina. In this case, rather than accept this Serb non-participation as a veto, it might be necessary to employ some Serbs from Serbia proper, and hope that the presence of international staff would serve as some sort of token of good faith.

Such a Peace Commission would itself need to evolve, adapting as the situation changes. As a body essentially designed for the transitional period, its roles would gradually be superseded by other emerging local institutions which the Commission itself would play a role in shaping.

Its tasks would be as follows:

Direct local intervention:

  1. to intervene directly when incidents seem likely, alongside international verifiers, or other international bodies;
  2. to offer mediation in instances of inter-community disputes over particular resources, the use of particular buildings, etc;

Policy development:

  1. to look at every programme for reconstruction and development to see what dimension of trust-building, if any, can be incorporated;
  2. to encourage local programmes for de-fusing flashpoints, such as Communication Centres to check out rumours that could incite conflict;
  3. to consider suggestions and later to promote local programmes that contribute to trust-building - such as, by way of illustration, local Peace and Development Zones in which local communities would pledge themselves to peaceful co-existence;
  4. to commission the production of educational and other materials that will be conducive to trust-building;

Monitoring and evaluation:

  1. to monitor how the emerging Kosovar institutions - including the new civilian police force and Police Academy, and various intergovernmental bodies - are playing their role;
  2. to investigate specific complaints about ethnic prejudice in the new institutions;
  3. to monitor local press, with a specific brief to promote - including helping with access to funding - newspapers playing a peace-building role;
  4. to advise on preparations for elections, on any Truth and Reconciliation Commission that may be proposed or on any Compensation process to be set up within Kosovo;
  5. to offer a framework for evaluation of local and international peace-building initiatives;


  1. to develop and maintain what Lederach calls 'a peace inventory' of who is doing what kind of peace-building;
  2. to liaise with training and civil society initiatives to strengthen the basis for peaceful co-existence;
  3. to liaise with the efforts of local 'peace teams' in accompanying the return of refugees;
  4. to allocate finances from a peace-building budget

In order to accomplish these tasks, the Peace Commission would need to have a certain status, being able to gain access and even secure the cooperation of a variety of bodies. It would also need to be of a sufficient size and well enough resourced to carry out the tasks expected of it.


  • to canvas the proposal for such a Peace Commission
  • to identify possible heads of programme, and possible staff - local and international
  • to initiate training programmes for potential staff - local and international - in the belief that such training would be useful even if a Peace Commission is not established
  • to invite people who have developed training programmes in and for other parts of the region to contribute to staff training - including the Centre for Peace Studies in Zagreb, the Osijek Peace Centre, and the Centre for Nonviolence in Sarajevo
  • at some stage to convene a donor conference to discuss the strategy and resource needs for such a Commission


It is essential to distinguish between negotiations and dialogue in a broader sense. Negotiations take place between representatives acting on behalf of constituencies and interests, and bound by what can be accepted (or what they judge can be accepted) by their community. Any agreement reached tends to reflect the balance of power at work in the situation. Dialogue on the other hand is oriented towards understanding different viewpoints and exploring the boundaries of what is possible: it has the freedom to put to one side realpolitik and so widen the realm of what can be considered. Impressions gained from dialogue meetings can be fed back into the community, and sometimes can be a useful corrective to stereotyped images of 'the Other'. At the same time, the contact can help prepare the ground for negotiation and play a trust-building role between potential negotiators, recognising that in addition to high level negotiations such as Rambouillet and Dayton, there are many low-level negotiations such as about the use of certain facilities in a community.

In the recent past, there have been international attempts to facilitate dialogue on all three levels - the top leadership, the potential negotiators; the medium level leadership, the 'opinion-formers' known and respected in their communities; and the grass-roots level - especially among youth.

Level 1. Leadership level:

Except for Ibrahim Rugova himself, all the non-KLA members of the Albanian negotiating team in Rambouillet had taken part in various meetings organised over the years by non-governmental external third parties. In general, it has been hard to find Serbian interlocutors of a similar political standing to the Albanian participants. Also, in general, the Albanian participants tend to have been drawn from sector of opinion most ready to compromise on the demand for independence, most concerned for peaceful co-existence, and probably with most previous engagement in the civil society networks that existed in what was former Yugoslavia.

The situation has now moved on. The previous leadership of the Kosovo Albanians is in disarray, and the KLA - upon whom the safety of Albanians trapped inside Kosovo is seen to depend - are more dominant than ever. Of the provisional government nominated by the KLA - and indeed of the KLA-aligned delegates at Rambouillet - probably only one, Hydajet Hyseni (former vice-president of the LDK, and now Minister for Law in the KLA-appointed interim government) had taken part in previous pre-negotiation dialogues. There is a need now to reconstruct an Albanian negotiating team that can reflect a full spectrum of Kosovo Albanian positions and interests, and to introduce new members of this leadership into dialogue with a range of views from Serbia and elsewhere in the region.

At the same time, for Serb leaders horrified by what is currently unfolding in Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia itself, and yet who are in some way implicated in it, dialogue can offer the opportunity to consider and even cohere around positions that go beyond the existing national reflex. Few people judge that Vuk Draskovic's renewed distancing of himself from Milosevic amounts to a serious threat, yet it could be symptomatic of an opening that exists and that can be expanded by offering opportunities for high-level dialogue.


  • to attempt to organise pre-negotiation meetings between potential Albanian negotiators.
  • to investigate which Serbian political leaders, including Serbs from Kosovo, would be willing to be interlocutors in dialogue meeting with Albanian negotiators.
  • to consider setting such dialogues in a regional frame with participants from Montenegro and Vojvodina, plus Macedonia and Albania.

Level 2: Medium level

Events organised jointly by the Prishtina Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Belgrade Helsinki Committee or by the Open Society Fund (Soros), have brought together a range of voices from what can loosely be called 'civil society' from both Serbia and Kosovo. Even in the current atmosphere in Serbia, a number of NGOs, the union Nezavisnost, and some well-known personalities have spoken out against the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. Such meetings in general enhance understanding and build some level of trust between most participants even if there is no political agreement.

While occasionally there has been participation from Vojvodina, there has rarely been participation by Serbs inside Kosovo, and perhaps there is unlikely to be so on general questions or when they feel there is a danger that might be treated as being representative. However, more promising results could be gained by inviting specific Kosovo Serbs to take part in more specific themed conversations. For instance, on the eve of the Drenica massacre last year, it was possible to bring together Serb and Albanian medical practitioners in Kosovo to hear about the community medicine approach of the Codman Square Centre, Dorchester, Mass (local organisers Mens Sana, Prishtina, tour arranged by Open Society Fund, Belgrade).


  • to make venues available outside FRY to organise general roundtables, even before any political settlement is in sight
  • to identify potential participants and potential topics for future themed dialogue sessions between Kosovo Albanian specialists and their counterparts in the Kosovo Serb and the Serbian community

Level 3: Grassroots leadership

The most valuable approaches to dialogue here - for instance, those organised by the Nansen Peace Academy, Pax Christi Link, and the Richardson Institute - build in a strong element of continuity among participants. On-the-ground internationals, such as the Balkan Peace Team, have been able to strengthen this by keeping contacts 'warm'. Certain Serbian groups - most notably the Post-Pessimists and the Students Union - have made such links a high priority; a number of these young people are now in Budapest.

Helping to re-establish connections between Albanians and Serbs who were already discussing how to stop the dreadful escalation into war will have a strong emotional value for all, but also it offers a re-grounding in what they previously aspired to. The experience of war - be it of bombings or of ethnic cleansing - distorts perception and evokes powerful emotional forces. Experiencing this in one's own community, with negligible contact with friends from the other community, it is hard to avoid a sense of blame and betrayal.


  • to identify previous participants in dialogue projects and offer a variety of frameworks for people to meet in safe places, to find each other again and what they had in common, and to try to look beyond the present catastrophe
  • to offer opportunities for individuals or groups to participate in training courses or sessions outside the region, especially when these are not possible inside, to develop their own capacities as trainers and facilitators
  • to support such people if they wish to develop programmes among refugees

It has been suggested to adapt for Kosovo a pattern of organising described at work in Colombia in John-Paul Lederach's book Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (US Institute of Peace, 1997, pp124-126). This was the "permanent course". It involved identifying potential participants from a range of social sectors - education, health, religion, youth, labour, etc - and in several parts of the country and asking them to make an 18-month commitment to take part in a programme of several workshops on peace-building. The goal was to help them be more effective in their own situation in the work of building an "infrastructure for peace", in identifying issues amenable to this approach, resources and capacities that could be helpful, and strategies in their locality and particular sector of work. Workshops were held in five different regions of the country. In Colombia, the 18-month commitment expanded and in 1997 was 'no longer conceived as a training process with a beginning and an end ... (but) as a permanent venue for the development of peace-building practitioners in Colombia.'


  • to study the feasibility of some such 'permanent course' in Kosovo, including identifying people in particular social sectors in different zones of Kosovo;
  • to hold some preliminary meetings outside Kosovo before the return of the refugees (depending on the timeframe for their return) with those refugees ready to consider such activities;
  • to offer training resources for local peace initiatives

Interaction between the levels

The levels are, of course, connected, and progress at one level can expand the scope for action at another. There will need to be meetings between people from the various levels engaged in one sector, and a general need for coordination.


In view of the growing number of codes of conduct being developed by international organisations, this paper confines itself to points particular to Kosovo.

Language: When the English traveller Edith Durham was visiting Kosovo in the last days of the Young Turks, she found that most rural Serbs spoke Albanian, but very few Albanians spoke Serbo-Croatian. The situation is now very different. Most Albanians who have completed their education speak Serbian, but few Kosovo Serbs speak Albanian. It has therefore been convenient for international agencies to employ Albanians rather than Serbs. This is a point where affirmative action is needed in favour of Serbs, including the offer of jobs conditional on satisfactory progress in learning Albanian.

Gender: The OSCE KVM training did include some gender awareness training on arrival in Kosovo. Most international agencies, however, have not had such programmes, yet this is a major area where clarity and cultural awareness are required.

Economic and social impact: In 1998, the arrival of so many international workers seeking lodging and office space and paying wages previously unheard of in Kosovo was bound to have an enormous impact. Local non-governmental organisations were hit through losing staff to international bodies that paid more but made less use of their skills. Rents rose sharply. 'Mugging' arrived in Prishtina for the first time (except by the police!). These are all familiar problems accompanying international emergency operations. Elsewhere in the region, the long term international presence has spawned 'leisure industries' such as prostitution. It is evident that more thought is needed on ways to mitigate the harmful impact of a strong international presence, including making agencies from outside more self-servicing.

Turf: International agencies tend to divide up 'turf' according to logistical considerations. Earlier I referred to criticisms of the International Orthodox Christian Charities for invading someone else's turf by setting up office in the disused honey factory in Decan. Relationships and the particular points of entry one has in a situation need as much consideration as logistics.


This paper has been commissioned by the Kosovo Working Group of the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support in preparation for a meeting in London on 25 May. We are aware of similar discussions in other countries and in other forums. At a time when there are so many immediate and pressing needs in responding to the situation in Kosovo and the surrounding region, many agencies and governmental bodies are at full stretch. Nevertheless, the need to prepare for the future is also acute.

Further analysis is necessary, especially of the impact of some of the programmes tried in the region in recent years. Here it should be noted that there is often a disparity between the concern of internationals and those of more locally based people who are familiar with the situation before and after an intervention. Also, it has to be repeated that Kosovo is not Bosnia or Croatia, and that expectations derived from those post-war situations need to be checked against this different reality.


  • to involve people from the region in evaluation of international civilian interventions
  • Further information collection and pooling is necessary on the current and rapidly developing situation: who is organising what programmes with refugees where?
  • what are the needs of re-emerging or newly formed Kosovar civil society bodies have? which community leaders in what fields of activity and in what geographical location are interested in contributing to any peace-building activity? Various bodies interested in peace-building are sending investigation missions to Macedonia and Albania to help draw up a longer term strategy.
  • to pool information through a listserver
  • in general to encourage cooperation and coordination between groups trying to developing peace-building programmes
  • From those making policy on behalf of governments, there is a need to define a framework about how they envisage managing the reconstruction and development - and hopefully trust-building - in Kosovo. Once such a framework is public, if its open to the initiatives of local and international bodies, there will be a strong will to contribute.
Programmes & Projects

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