Kosovo: UN envoy provides details on scaled-down peacekeeping mission

19 September 2008

The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, known as UNMIK, today unveiled details of the its reconfigured role, noting that the mission must evolve in line with realities on the ground.

“After nine years, the situation in Kosovo has changed and that means UNMIK, too, has to change,” Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, told the mission’s staff at a town-hall meeting in Pristina.

He pointed out that the upcoming changes are just part of the many reconfigurations the mission has undergone since its establishment.

UNMIK, which will be scaled down in size, will continue its key functions as mandated by Security Council resolution 1244, which calls for facilitating dialogue on practical issues between Kosovo and Serbia.

Further, the mission will maintain, as needed, its field presence in Mitrovica and three smaller offices in other parts of Kosovo, as well as boost its interaction with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Mr. Zannier stressed that Kosovo’s minority communities will continue to be a central focus of the mission’s work.

He also said that he understands the needs of UNMIK staff, many of whom will be leaving the mission between now and the end of the year. “We are doing our utmost to find them jobs elsewhere, including in other UN peacekeeping missions,” he said.

Last month, Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Acting Principal Deputy Special Representative for Kosovo, unveiled plans for UNMIK’s downsizing, including 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.

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