While the United Nations mission has reconfigured itself in response to the prevailing situation on the ground after Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia last year, it still has an important role to play in ensuring stability in the area, its chief said today.
"UNMIK's role today is different, but no less relevant or vital," Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, told the Security Council as he presented Ban Ki-moon's latest report on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.
While the world body has remained neutral on the question of the status of Kosovo, UNMIK has been undergoing a process of restructuring to adapt to the prevailing situation.
The reconfiguration 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 (1244) that established the mission.
“The newly reconfigured UNMIK will continue to perform its functions under Security Council resolution 1244 with the overall aim of ensuring peace and stability in Kosovo,” said Mr. Zannier, who heads the mission, which took over in 1999 after NATO forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid deadly fighting with the majority ethnic Albanian population.
The Special Representative said that with the reconfiguration now complete, UNMIK has progressively shifted its focus towards an increasingly diplomatic and political role targeted on facilitating dialogue and external relations, and fostering minority rights.
“UNMIK’s reconfiguration is both timely and necessary,” he said. “Moreover, it has served to enhance UNMIK’s effectiveness in view of the prevailing circumstances on the ground, which have increasingly limited the scope for performing administrative functions.”
The reconfiguration is also providing an opportunity to enhance cooperation between the various UN actors operating in Kosovo, improving the overall coherence and effectiveness of the world body’s actions and promoting greater interaction, he added.
In his recent report, Mr. Ban welcomed the assumption of full operational capability by the EU mission (EULEX) and said that he is encouraged by the level of cooperation between it and UNMIK on the ground.
“Our goal, with the support of EULEX, OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and the international military presence, remains to ensure stability, foster reconciliation and allow for the return of IDPs [internally displaced persons],” said Mr. Zannier.
He added that the UN remains “uniquely situated” to play a useful role, including by acting as an intermediary between parties that are not ready to deal with each other directly. “Our status neutrality allows us to use our efforts to nurture the reconciliation of Kosovo’s communities and foster regional cooperation.”