Significant downsizing foreseen for UN mission in Kosovo, says envoy

15 August 2008

The reconfiguration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) will lead to a major reduction in staff levels, among other changes, a senior official with the world body said today.

“We are intending in a relatively short period to significantly downsize the mission… by approximately 70 per cent,” Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Acting Principal Deputy Special Representative for Kosovo, told a news conference in Pristina.

In light of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February and the new reality on the ground, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has put forward a plan to reconfigure the UN mission.

The plan includes an enhanced operational role for the European Union in the area of rule of law under a UN “umbrella” headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and in line with the 1999 Security Council resolution that established the mission.

A reconfigured UNMIK would continue to carry out many functions, including those related to a dialogue with Serbia on provisions in six areas: police, courts, customs, transport and infrastructure, boundaries and Serbian patrimony.

Outlining details of the reconfiguration, Mr. Haysom told reporters it will also eliminate components and offices whose powers for interim civil administration can no longer be exercised.

“To some extent the downsizing is a reality brought about by the fact that the UN is no longer performing the role that it is used to, that Kosovo institutions have assumed many of the functions that the UN had performed and we have to adjust to that reality,” he stated.

UNMIK has been in place since mid-1999 after NATO forces drove Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one, amid deadly inter-communal fighting that year.


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Cooperation between evolving UN mission and Kosovo focus of Pristina talks

Senior United Nations official Nicholas Haysom held talks today in Pristina with the Kosovo leadership on issues relating to the evolving role of the world body’s mission there, which has had to adjust to a new reality on the ground since Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February.