Standards - make Kosovo a home for all


PRISTINA - The Standards for Kosovo were established in 2002-3 as eight fields or 'Benchmarks' seen as priorities for the recently-established Kosovo institutions. The eight fields were functioning democratic institutions, rule of law, freedom of movement, sustainable returns and the rights of communities and their members, economy, property rights (including cultural heritage), Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, and the Kosovo Protection Corps.

Within these fields were identified 109 goals, presented to the Security Council in December 2003 in the document 'Standards for Kosovo'. This document in turn was implemented through the 'Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan', (KSIP) finalized in March 2004.

The purpose of the Standards was to create a fairer and more tolerant society, and improve levels of public sector performance. At the same time, Kosovo was at the start of a European Integration process with the same long-term objective. So in 2005 a decision was made to merge the two processes, and so the European Partnership agreement concluded with the Kosovo authorities in January 2006 incorporated all 109 goals of the Standards programme. A European Partnership Action Plan, drafted by the Kosovo authorities in consultation with UNMIK, replaced the KSIP in November 2006. This reversed the arrangement used for the KSIP, which was drafted mainly by UNMIK in consultation with the PISG - showing how far the capacity of the PISG had moved forward in a little over two years. As a result, the standards are now incorporated within the European Partnership, which also covers many other areas not included in the standards.

The Security Council requires regular reporting on the standards, and this is done by attaching a Technical Assessment of Standards Implementation to each quarterly report of the Secretary General to the Security Council. These Technical Assessments summarize data gathered through the standards programme, and everything contained in them is based on fact and can be traced back to the operational level. The implementation of standards is ensured through local and international coordinators and working groups, but a large number of actors across the whole public sector are involved, including at municipal level. The principal working groups have from the start been co-chaired by Kosovo ministers and senior UNMIK officials, and over the last year the responsibility to run the programme has passed almost entirely to the Kosovo institutions. The Contact Group and other Kosovo liaison offices monitor the process and are invited to all standards working groups.

The Standards process has contributed to the strengthening of the Kosovo institutions over the last four years, as they have gradually gained experience in implementing such a wideranging programme. Kosovo has changed and continues to change and the Standards implementation process is one of the factors that assisted this change, which in turn ensured some improvement in the lives of Kosovo's people. Analysis of the performance of the standards programme since 2003 shows at least some progress on every one of the 109 goals, and major progress on many of them. The proof of this is the increasing normality of life for most people in Kosovo. Much more still needs to be done to improve the quality of life, and indeed the quest for standards will never be complete. This is true not just in Kosovo but in all societies. There will always be challenges remaining. For Kosovo the fight against corruption, the need for justice system reform and minority returns are obvious cases. It is also regrettable that the programme has failed to gain active participation from the Kosovo Serb community, who were originally intended to be one of the beneficiaries. But the fact that there is always more to do should not be used to claim that nothing has been done.

The standards process has worked by gradual development rather than by headline achievements, but here are a few examples of recent developments within the scope of standards: adoption of a new Language Law, returns to Roma Mahala, ongoing transfer of responsibilities in the police and justice sector, ongoing privatisation, continued progress on church reconstruction, and the continuous operation of the KPC within its mandate and the rule of law.

The programme is now continuing within the framework of the European Integration process, and the future development of Kosovo, like all territories in the region, depends on long-term success within this process. The standards have made a necessary contribution to making this possible.

For further information, contact Public Information Officer Hanna Snarberg, E-mail: Tel: +381 (0)38 504 604 ext: 5790, Mob: +377 (0)44 151 858.