Kosovo: Ban outlines plans to reconfigure UN presence

Kosovo: Ban outlines plans to reconfigure UN presence

UN Police securing UNMIK Court building in Mitrovica
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveiled plans today to reconfigure the structure and profile of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) in the wake of Kosovo’s decision earlier this year to declare its independence from Serbia.

In a special report sent to the Security Council, Mr. Ban indicated his intention to adjust UNMIK in such a way that the European Union would play an enhanced operational role in the rule of law area under a UN “umbrella” headed by his Special Representative, in line with the original 1999 resolution that established the mission.

The Secretary-General has sent letters to both President Boris Tadic in Belgrade and Fatmir Sejdiu in Pristina informing them of the plans to reconfigure UNMIK and the broader international civil presence in Kosovo.

The letters also confirm the UN position of “status-neutrality” on the question of the status of Kosovo and detail the world body’s commitment to a dialogue with Serbia in six areas: police, justice, boundary management, Serbian patrimony, transport and infrastructure, and customs.

Mr. Ban is also planning to appoint a new Special Representative as part of the reconfiguration, which follows consultations with Belgrade, Pristina, the EU, Security Council Member States and the Kosovo Contact Group.

Today, while in Paris to attend an international conference on Afghanistan, Mr. Ban also discussed the situation in Kosovo during bilateral meetings with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

UNMIK has been in place since mid-1999 after NATO forces drove Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo that year amid deadly inter-ethnic fighting. On 17 February this year, the Assembly of Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government adopted a resolution declaring independence.