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OSCE Fact Sheet: Supporting democracy in Kosovo

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The OSCE Mission, along with the other Pillars of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMiK), is working to create the conditions in which all the people of Kosovo can live a normal and peaceful life. OSCE believes that tolerance, mutual respect, reconciliation and dialogue are essential if everyone is to be able to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms in a democratic, pluralist and multi-ethnic society.
Supporting the development of democratic structures in Kosovo and promoting the participation of people at all levels of society, in both urban and rural areas, in the development of a democratic Kosovo is one of the OSCE' s key tasks here. A vibrant civil society, which includes effective non-governmental organisations and provides opportunities for people to make their views and concerns heard, is crucial. So too are the existence of political parties operating in a healthy political climate and well-functioning and transparent public administration bodies staffed by competent and efficient personnel. The OSCE is supporting the development of both political and non-political structures which represent and work on behalf of all civilians and sections of Kosovar society.

Political Party Development

There are now several political parties, spanning a broad political spectrum and representing Kosovo's main ethnic communities. Most, although not all, are already participating in the new Joint Interim Administrative Structures at both provincial and municipal level. These political parties will be obliged to register with UNMiK. Later this year, they will field candidates in local elections. The OSCE is helping to rebuild and strengthen the organisational capacity of Kosovo's political parties, in co-operation with other organisations.

Political Party Service Centres

The OSCE will establish ten Political Party Service Centres (PPSC) at various locations around Kosovo to provide branches of all political parties working in the region with access to premises, basic infrastructure and communication facilities. The Centres contain conference rooms and offices; basic equipment such as computers and photocopiers, as well as telephones and fax machines to enable the parties' local branches to communicate with each other. The first PPSC was opened in Pristina in November 1999 and the second in Pec/Peja in February 2000.

Training

The OSCE has also been assessing the training needs of political parties with a view to arranging relevant capacity-building programmes for them.

In addition, OSCE has organised information and discussion events to enable political parties to engage in dialogue with each other.

Civil Administration Support

Civil servants working in the new administrative departments and municipal bodies will play an important role in the establishment of efficient and democratic government structures in Kosovo. The OSCE is working to identify the training needs of local government officials, executive and administrative officers, who will be responsible for managing the day-to-day functions of government.

Training for Civil Administrators

During 2000, the OSCE will set up a new Institute for Civil Administration, which will provide regular training primarily to civil administrators in Kosovo. Some of these training courses will take place in the regions to facilitate staff from municipalities located far from Pristina.

The first courses took place between December 1999 and January 2000. Employees from 25 municipalities received training from the OSCE and UN Civil Administration in how to register and issue certificates for births, marriages and deaths. They were also briefed on the procedures for issuing travel documents. Training in human and civic rights and personnel management is also underway. Further courses are planned in areas such as accounting, computer skills, urban planning, community outreach and public information. The OSCE is also helping to train personnel working with UN Civil Administration.

Municipal Fact Summaries

In January 2000, OSCE launched a new Municipal Fact Summary project. The aim of the project is toproduce a profile of the political parties, civil administration structures and NGOs operating in each municipality of Kosovo. This information will be of use both to international and to local organisations. The first Municipal Fact Summary - on Glogovac / Gllogoc - is now available to the public.

Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Development

The OSCE is also supporting the development of non-political structures such as citizens' groups, human rights groups and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs). These groups, which represent various sections of the population in both rural and urban areas, have an important contribution to make to the development of a democratic society in Kosovo and to the promotion and protection of human rights. There is a significant level of civil society activity in Kosovo and many of the NGOs, which operated here before the conflict, still exist. However, their structures and programmes have been disrupted. The OSCE's aim is to help them become fully operational again.

NGO Resource Centres

The OSCE plans to establish over a dozen NGO Resource Centres at various locations around Kosovo in order to give non-governmental organisations working in the region access to office and training facilities and other resources. As with the PPSCs, the NGO Centres will provide conference rooms and office space as well as access to computers, photocopiers, telephones and fax machines. The first NGO Resource Centre opened in Pec/Peja in November 1999. The second is scheduled to open in Djakovica/Gjakova (Prizren) this spring. The OSCE is also facilitating training programmes for NGO personnel. The first course focused on the new legal environment within which NGOs now operate.

NGO Registration

The OSCE has published a handbook to provide NGOs with all the information they need to formally register in Kosovo. Copies of the "Guidelines for NGO Registration in Kosovo", which include the text of UNMiK Regulation 1999/22 governing the registration of local and international NGOs operating inside Kosovo, are available in English, Albanian and Serbian from any OSCE office in Kosovo.

The OSCE has also been working with the Interim NGO Council, some of whose members will represent the non-governmental sector on the Interim Administrative Council (IAC), on the drafting of their new constitution.

Citizens' Forums

Recently, the OSCE launched a new Citizens Forums pilot project in four municipalities. The aim of the project is to create a mechanism through which ordinary people can give firsthand feedback about important issues affecting daily life in their municipality and the ideas they have for addressing the challenges that exist at local level. These community forums could be used, for example, to raise awareness and prepare the electorate for the forthcoming municipal elections. Through the forums, ordinary people will also be able to communicate their concerns and visions for the future to their local politicians. Each Citizens Forum will be made up of 15-20 people representing a cross-section of the communities they represent. The emphasis will be on non-politicians from a range of age groups. The involvement of women in these groups is vital.

Special Events

The OSCE has been involved in organising a number of conferences, workshops and round-tables on a range of themes, which have provided various special interest groups with valuable opportunities to network, discuss and exchange views on issues of concern to them.

Representatives from several Kosovar women's NGOs joined female politicians from other parts of Europe and members of international organisations involved in women's issues at the first OSCE-organised Women's Workshop in Pristina in November 1999. The OSCE has also organised discussion events on children's rights and other issues affecting the younger generation. In February of this year, for example, members of the general public joined educational experts, representatives from the Interim Administration, school principals, teachers and representatives from parents' associations to discuss Kosovo's educational system at a round-table in Pec/Peja. OSCE has also been working closely with groups representing Kosovo's disabled community.

Ethnic Minorities and Religious Groups

Kosovo's ethnic minorities have been especially vulnerable since the conflict ended. Communities have been dispersed and people remained displaced from their homes. OSCE has been working with groups, such as the Roma community for example: hosting events aimed at raising awareness of issues affecting them and organising training opportunities for the younger generation.

The OSCE also maintains regular contact with the leaders of Kosovo's main religious communities who have an important role in the process of bringing Kosovo's communities together and encouraging reconciliation.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - Mission in Kosovo
For further information, contact the OSCE Public Information Office, Pristina
Tel: (+381-38) 500-162 or satphone: 871-762-009-948 ext. 145 / email: press@omik.org
http://www.osce.org/kosovo/