Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fourth Report



167.  Since the expulsion of Milosevic's forces from Kosovo, the territory has been under UN control. The UN defends and polices Kosovo. It imposes and collects the taxes, makes the law, appoints the officials and runs the public services from prisons to schools. This is an unprecedented constitutional role for the UN,[449] and an unprecedented and extremely challenging test of the ability of the international community to take the place of a government which has abused its own citizens in the way the Milosevic government did in respect of the majority population of Kosovo. It is not an exaggeration to say that a new type of international responsibility is on trial. This was recognised at the highest level when Kofi Annan wrote that UNSCR 1244 "mandated the United Nations with an unprecedented challenge in Kosovo."[450]

168.  UNSCR 1244, in fact, effectively established Kosovo as a United Nations protectorate, with military forces operating as KFOR (described in the Resolution as an "international security presence with substantial NATO participation...deployed under unified command and control"[451]) and the civil administration under the umbrella of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). As Dr Jones Parry explained to us, "effectively the sovereignty of Kosovo has been passed temporarily to the United Nations and the organisation of the delegated to the Special Representative of the United Nations and he...with the commander of KFOR is responsible for the territory."[452] Two paragraphs of UNSCR 1244 set out the responsibilities of the international security presence (KFOR) and the international civil presence (UNMIK) respectively.

169.  KFOR's responsibilities are:[453]

    (a)  deterring renewed hostilities, maintaining and where necessary enforcing a ceasefire, and ensuring the withdrawal and preventing the return into Kosovo of Federal and Republic military, police and paramilitary forces [with certain exceptions];

    (b)  demilitarizing the KLA and other armed Kosovo Albanian groups;

    (c)  establishing a secure environment in which refugees and displaced persons can return home in safety, the international civil presence can operate, a transitional administration can be established, and humanitarian aid can be delivered;

    (d)  ensuring public safety and order until the international civil presence can take responsibility for this task;

    (e)  supervising demining until the international civil presence can, as appropriate, take over responsibility for this task;

    (f)  supporting, as appropriate, and coordinating closely with the work of the international civil presence;

    (g)  conducting border monitoring duties as required;

    (h)  ensuring the protection and freedom of movement of itself, the international civil presence, and other international organisations.

170.  UNMIK's responsibilities are:[454]

    (a)  promoting the establishment, pending a final settlement, of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo, taking full account of annex 2 [which refers to autonomy within Yugoslavia] and of the Rambouillet accords;

    (b)  performing basic civilian administrative functions where and as long as required;

    (c)  organizing and overseeing the development of provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government pending a political settlement, including the holding of elections;

    (d)   transferring, as these institutions are established, its administrative responsibilities while overseeing and supporting the consolidation of Kosovo's local provisional institutions and other peace-building activities;

    (e)  facilitating a political process designed to determine Kosovo's future status, taking into account the Rambouillet accords;

    (f)  in a final stage, overseeing the transfer of authority from Kosovo's provisional institutions to institutions established under a political settlement;

    (g)  supporting the reconstruction of key infrastructure and other economic reconstruction;

    (h)  supporting, in coordination with international humanitarian organizations, humanitarian and disaster relief aid;

    (i)  maintaining civil law and order, including establishing local police forces and meanwhile through the deployment of international police personnel to serve in Kosovo;

    (j)  protecting and promoting human rights;

    (k)  assuring the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo.

171.  UNMIK has divided its tasks under four headings or "pillars", each led by international organisations. Dr Bernard Kouchner, the French founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and a former French Minister, heads the UNMIK operation. The UN itself has taken responsibility for public security, law and order, judicial affairs and public administration. The OSCE has responsibility for elections, civil society, local media development and regulation, political parties, police training and human rights. The UNHCR controls humanitarian assistance and demining, while the EU oversees all donor activity and has responsibility for housing, utilities, schools, health facilities and economic development.[455] The Ministry of Defence is responsible for the funding of the British contribution to KFOR and DFID have lead British responsibility for all four areas of assistance under the control of UNMIK.[456]

The challenge

172.  It is certainly a formidable task to co-ordinate the activities of armed forces from 38 different countries and police and administrators from even more different traditions. For example, on 2 March 2000, there were police officers from 45 countries operating in Kosovo, and from traditions as diverse as Benin and Sweden or Fiji and Kyrgyzstan.[457] In our brief visit we encountered Swedish, Italian, Portuguese, Egyptian, Finnish, Canadian, US and Mexican members of KFOR and UNMIK, as well as Britons. There is also the potential problem of co-ordination between the military and civil parts of the UN mandate, though we were told in Kosovo by senior KFOR and UNMIK officers that co-operation between the civil and military sides was very good, and we were able to see practical examples of this in policing.

173.  An even more formidable challenge is presented by the dire state in which KFOR and UNMIK found Kosovo. Under the Milosevic regime, public services for Albanian communities were run down and Albanians deprived of work in key industries and the professions. The state education system was not used by Albanians, who ran their own under-funded parallel system. This was part of a complex alternative structure of government. Deprived of civil rights by the Milosevic regime, the Albanian population of Kosovo no longer had the sense of civil responsibilities, such as the obligation to pay taxation.[458] Once ethnic cleansing began, as well as the assaults on the population, buildings and crops were destroyed and livestock slaughtered.[459] All of this was exacerbated by the damage to the infrastructure caused by the NATO campaign and by damage to economic assets deliberately caused by retreating Serb forces. As the Serbs retreated, a further problem was caused as the vacuum they left was often filled by the KLA and by criminal elements from Albania. According to the Foreign Secretary, "we took over a province which frankly was a desert in terms of any public service"[460] and he told us how exasperated he was by press articles "plainly written by people who have no grasp or concept of how big the problem was when we took over."[461] In his words, Kosovo is "an impoverished province...further ravished by the conflict."[462] We agree with this assessment.

174.  In this situation, KFOR has had to provide the security, first against Milosevic's forces and then inter-communally inside Kosovo, while UNMIK has had to operate as a sort of colonial administration. The periodic reports of the UN Secretary General[463] show the extent of the task, and the level of detail which has had to be addressed. The nitty-gritty of public administration—establishing a tax system, registering vehicles, paying civil servants, operating a postal service, maintaining schools, colleges and health facilities—as well as tasks often performed by the private sector—training bank employees, maintaining electricity supply, re-starting enterprises, operating bus and train services—have all fallen to UNMIK. Regulations made by UNMIK have the force of law in Kosovo, and UNMIK officials run central and local administrations.

175.  The challenge is so enormous that it is easy to find fault. The Foreign Secretary did not accept that there was a danger that, having won the war, the international community might now lose the peace.[464] Instead he pointed to the magnitude of what had already been achieved. However, we were told by KFOR and UNMIK staff that the danger of failure was a real one. To an extent, this was recognised by the Prime Minister in his statement to the House after the March 2000 Lisbon European Council when he promised that "we shall see the peace through in the same way that we saw the conflict through."[465] We propose in this part of our report to examine a number of areas of the UN's mandate, drawing attention to the problems which exist and making recommendations about ways in which the United Kingdom might help to deal with those problems.

176.  The responsibility for solving the problems of Kosovo does not rest with the British Government, nor is the FCO responsible within the British Government for KFOR's contribution or for the bulk of the United Kingdom's civil assistance. Nevertheless, the FCO has stressed the United Kingdom's "key role in the early stages of implementing the military aspects of the settlement in Kosovo"; the fact that it "will continue to play a major part in the stabilisation"; its "strong support to UNMIK", and that "UK activity is a major part of the international effort to restore normal life to Kosovo."[466] These claims to occupy a leading position are borne out by the level of contribution, both in terms of finance and manpower, as we set out later. Politically, the Foreign Secretary has been a driving force in policy towards Kosovo. Thus though it would be wrong to imply that the FCO can alone take responsibility for post-war Kosovo, we think it is appropriate to address our criticism, praise and recommendations to the FCO.

Costs of UNMIK

177.  UNMIK's job in Kosovo is enormous, but there have been complaints that it has not been provided with the funding necessary to perform its functions properly, and that there have also been delays in disbursing money to the projects on the ground. A contrast is often drawn between the money made available for the military campaign and the money available for reconstruction. Thus Dr Woodward told us that "the lack of resources to the United Nations is really appalling given what we were willing to do with the bombing campaign."[467] Dr Kouchner is reported as having expressed a similar view forcefully to the UN Security Council on 7 March. He said that "we must allocate the necessary resources to accomplish the job" and that it was "unacceptable" for UNMIK to have to beg for the funds which had been pledged to it by the international community. We were told in Kosovo that Dr Kouchner had had to go round EU member states begging for money just to pay UNMIK staff. In response to Dr Kouchner's remarks at the UN, Kofi Annan said that support had been "very slow in coming", though he noted that money had started to flow from the EU.[468]

178.  The Foreign Secretary defended the contribution to Kosovo of both the EU in general and the United Kingdom in particular. He pointed out that £354 million of UNMIK's total budget for 2000 of £529 million was being provided by the EU, and that the United Kingdom was providing £57 million of the total EU contribution in addition to its own bilateral expenditure.[469] He also told us that the United Kingdom was paying £475 million for peacekeeping and reconstruction in the year from June 1999, £370 million of which was for KFOR and the balance the contribution to UNMIK and reconstruction. This balance of £105 million was more than twice what was spent on the war (though written evidence made plain that the costs of the war did not include the costs of replacing munitions).[470]

179.  We reproduce below as Table 1 a table based on information received from the FCO.[471] This sets out aggregate figures for EU Member States' bilateral contributions to Kosovo for 1999-2000. The Table must be used with great caution. First, it includes both pledged and donated sums. Second, there are inconsistencies in coverage, with, for example, some countries (such as Sweden and Luxembourg) appearing to include spending by NGOs. Third, there may be some missing data: for example, a Dutch budget for refugees in 2000 is yet to be agreed—their contribution was a substantial _70m in 1999. However, taking into account these caveats, it is still possible to calculate totals for the contributions of each EU State, and to relate this to GDP in each case. These are the columns in bold type in the table. This shows that the United Kingdom is slightly below the weighted EU average, but higher than a number of countries, including France and Spain. We recommend that the United Kingdom should aim to provide bilateral assistance at least at the average EU level.

449   Though the UN had a similar role, on a much smaller scale, in Eastern Slavonia. Back

450   Report of the Secretary General on UNMIK, 3 March 2000, S/2000/177. Back

451   Annex 2.5. Back

452   QC104. Back

453   UNSCR 1244 (1999) para 9. Back

454   UNSCR 1244 (1999) para 11. Back

455   Ev. p. 49. Back

456   Ev. pp. 47-9. Back

457   See Table 2. Back

458   QC479. Back

459   QC424. Back

460   QC470. Back

461   QC479. Back

462   QC432. Back

463   E.g. 23 December 1999 (S/1999/1250) and 3 March 2000 (S/2000/177). Back

464   QC432. Back

465   HC Deb 27 March 2000 col 35. Back

466   Ev. p. 13-14. Back

467   QC291. Back

468 Back

469   QC485. Back

470   QC453; Ev. p. 175. Back

471   Ev. pp. 374-378. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 7 June 2000