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25 Midwife to a Nation Kosovo was a wreck when Serbian security forces left in June 1999. Towns and villages were in shambles. Refugees were streaming back as international civilians and military forces were flowing into Kosovo. Serbian technicians and officials who worked in government agencies had fled. Kosovo had no government and no police, and the Kosovo Albanians had no experience in real self-governance. Electricity and water supplies were sporadic. Except for local farming, Kosovo had no economy, and the infrastructure was in a serious state of neglect. Security was the priority issue. Kosovo was a land of the blood feud. Society centered on the clan and a code of honor that demanded vengeance for offenses against the clan. As the Serbs withdrew, Kosovo Albanians committed acts of local retribution and vengeance to settle scores. The first order of business for the international community as it deployed to Kosovo was to protect the local Serbs from revenge attacks. The negotiated international documents—the MTA and UNSCR 1244—transferred sovereignty for the territory of Kosovo to the United Nations until an unspecified political process determined Kosovo’s future status.1 UNSCR 1244 gave international organizations in Kosovo the authority to secure Kosovo under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. It authorized two independent international organizations in Kosovo to work in coordination with each other: an international civilian presence to be led by a UN special representative of the secretary-general (SRSG) and a separate international security presence. The civilian presence, known as the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), under the SRSG would have all executive, judicial, and legislative authority in Kosovo until local institutions were established . The security presence, KFOR, would be led by NATO but would include non-NATO partners. KFOR would be responsible for deterring external threats, demilitarizing the KLA, and creating a secure environment Midwife to a Nation 235 in Kosovo. It would support UNMIK but would not be subordinate to it. Political direction of KFOR would remain at the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, and command of KFOR would stay within NATO channels. A senior UN official, Sergio de Mello, filled in as SRSG until Dr. Bernard Kouchner of France arrived as the first permanent SRSG on July 15, 1999. Kouchner was the founder of Medecins sans frontieres and had served in ministerial positions in the French government. An energetic and capable man, he charged into the tasks at hand as the organization formed. Kouchner was essentially an international viceroy, governing a warravaged Kosovo. He needed to restore local order and create the conditions for local self-governance. He had to keep the UN bureaucracy in New York happy as he dealt with Paris and other Contact Group countries at various levels. Local Serbs also needed attention and support. Kouchner faced the major task of coordinating the independent-minded international organizations in Kosovo that made up UNMIK; the UN managed the administration of Kosovo and necessary humanitarian assistance ; the EU took responsibility for reconstruction and economic development ; and the OSCE accepted the task of institution building. In addition to NATO, that made four major international organizations operating within Kosovo. Bernard Kouchner proved to be an excellent first leader of this complicated and cumbersome organization. International organizations never act as efficiently or as quickly as the involved nations expect them to—even when these nations decline to take direct responsibility. UNMIK was no exception, but I came to respect Kouchner and appreciate both his passion for the job and his theatrical nature as I traveled in and out of Kosovo during his tenure as SRSG. Kouchner understood the issues in Kosovo and looked for practical solutions. He was comfortable in the SRSG position and was not afraid to speak up about problems. He had authority, but he also had a gregarious demeanor and straightforward approach that won the Albanians’ respect and helped him with the international organizations and the national capitals looking over his shoulder. The international mandates caused thousands of foreign civilians and soldiers to deploy to Kosovo as part of UNMIK and KFOR. They came with money, equipment, and authority to a damaged area with virtually no economy and a growing population. International civilians are always very well paid and have exceptional benefits. Along with all the good they 236 Kosovo: War and Independence accomplish, they also have a serious impact on the local society. International institutions can hire the best local workers and rent the best facilities. A low-level employee in an...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813174365
Print ISBN
9780813174358
MARC Record
OCLC
1005921887
Pages
370
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
N
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