Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Dr Karin Hippel

  This brief will concentrate on the effectiveness of UNMIK with respect to the treatment of minorities. The author was Director, Office of Community Affairs, Department of Local Administration, in the Civil Administration (Pillar II) component of UNMIK, from January through mid-November 2000. This paper will describe the work of the Office of Community Affairs, both before and after the October 2000 municipal elections, including the steps taken to continue the transfer of power to the Kosovars. The author was also involved in other minority issues (eg, security escorts for the Serb representatives in the JIAS, participation in the Joint Committee on Returns, and fund-raising and project implementation).

  Please note that the term "minority" will be used here to denote a minority community in a particular municipality in Kosovo, which includes Albanians in the nothern Serb-dominated municipalities, but it primarily refers to Serbs, Romas, Hashkalias, Egyptians, Goranis, Bosniacs, Croats, and Turks. For historical and other reasons, the Serbs dislike being referred to as a minority, arguing that since Kosovo is still part of Yugoslavia, they are the majority.

  The Office of Community Affairs (OCA) was responsible for establishing Community Offices in municipalities throughout Kosovo, under the "Agenda for Co-existence" (see attachment two, prepared by OSRSG), in order to improve the presence of UNMIK in areas where minority groups live, enhance protection and access to essential services for local communities, and lay the foundation for a multi-ethnic society. An additional objective has been to contribute to the creation of conditions for the return of those who have left Kosovo. This latter objective has been the most difficult for real and perceived fears for security for all minority groups, but in particular for the Serbs. It should be noted, however, that significant returns of Serbs to Bosnia did not begin until several years after Dayton. The OCA also coordinated closely with other members of the international community involved in minority issues, including donors, KFOR, CIVPOL, multilateral agencies, and NGOs.

From January through October 2000:

  Throughout this period, policy guidelines and coordination of the work of the international Local Community Officers (LCOs)—who were tasked with the above-mentioned objectives as well as establishing the field offices and hiring local experts to serve the needs of the community—were provided by the Office of Community Affairs, with regular consultation with the OSRSG. The offices were an integral part of the UNMIK Municipal structures, while the LCOs, as chairpersons of the Local Communities Offices in their respective municipalities, also served as ex-officio members of the Muncipal Administrative Board. All offices were (and still are) located in mixed muncipalities and often also in the enclaves, because most minority members cannot easily access municipal buildings, and therefore services, on a regular basis due to fears for their security. All sub-offices, or satellite offices, have been under the direct supervision of the muncipality. The LCO, along with the Municipal Administrators, recruited a number of local muncipal civil servants to work in each office. The LCO was responsible for ensuring that these employees co-ordinated their work with that of the other local staff in the municipality, in areas such as health care, education, etc. Similarly, the Municipal Administrator, together with the LCO and the Office of Community Affairs, ensured that the policies of the municipality cohered with that of the Municipal Community Office in order to avoid the establishment of parallel structures.

Municipal Community Offices post-October elections:

  After the October 2000 municipal elections, these community offices were transformed into Municipal Community Offices, as stipulated by the Regulation on Self-Government of Municipalities in Kosovo (UNMIK/REG/2000/45, 11 August 2000). In line with UNMIK's policy of transferring power to the Kosovars, the Municipal Community Offices were thereafter headed by a local expert (appointed by either the Municipal Assembly or by the Municipal Administrator, as stipulated in municipal law). The head of the office was thus responsible for directing the work of the Kosovars employed in the office, while the international LCO took on a supervisory and monitoring role.

  As long as ethnic tension remains exceptionally high in most parts of Kosovo, the international LCO will likely be an integral component of the mission. In fact, the international LCO will probably be one of the last internationals to be transitioned from the mission, along with budget directors/auditors. Every six months, however, the role of the international LCO will be reviewed by the international Municipal Administrator, along with representatives from the Department of Local Administration (the Co-heads and the local and international directors of the Office of Community Affairs). The review will evaluate general developments and the successful delivery of services to the minority communities, as well as the co-operation between the Municipal Community Office and the municipality. International LCOs can be phased out at different times in the different municipalities: there is no need to have a blanket policy throughout Kosovo, as some municipalities may take longer than others to achieve co-existence.

  Finally, municipal law also stipulates the Municipal Community Office itself, which was established because of exceptional circumstances and primarily for reasons of security and equity, is intended as a temporary measure, and will need to be reviewed on a regular basis, taking into account political developments in Kosovo. In direct consultation with the OSRSG, the offices can be phased out when all ethnic communities are able to access municipal services on a regular basis, in a sustainable and fair manner.

As municipal law states:

  23.11 Community Offices shall be temporary and shall exist only for so long as the Central Authority considers them to be necessary to comply with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244.

  23.15 The Central Authority shall regularly review the necessity for each Community Office and sub-office.

  At the time of departure from the mission, the Office of Community Affairs had established offices in 24 municipalities (the remaining six municipalities either had minimal numbers or no members of minority communities at all, but municipal law allows for the opening of an office in the future if there are returns). There were approximately 40 offices in total (including satellite offices), with 40 internationals, and over 300 members of the different commuities, all dedicated to serve the needs of the inhabitants of the area.



  Respecting UN Security Council Resolution 1244, representatives of Serb communities in Kosovo will work in the Joint Interim Administrative Structure and share provisional administrative management with UNMIK through participation in the Kosovo Transitional Council, the Interim Administrative Council, Administrative Deparmtents as well as in the different administrative structures at the municipal level, including the establishement of Kosovo Community Offices.

  Kosovo Local Community Offices shall be established in all municipalities with substantial multi-ethnic composition to enhance protection and ensure the access to public services of Serb and non-Albanian communities at the municipal level.

  All decisions must be in conformity with the Applicable Law in Kosovo. The SRSG retains final decision-making authority.


a. Municipal Level

  The Local Community Offices shall be an integral part of the Kosovo Local Administrative Structures and shall serve Serb and non-albanian communities within their respective municipal administration.

  The Local Community Offices shall be headed by an UNMIK Local Community Officer, who shall have their offices in a community area within a municipality and be an ex-officio member of the Municipal Administrative Board.

  The Local Community Offices shall be composed of UNMIK Local Community Officers(s), and as appropriate, of other members representing the local communities appointed by him/her: A Chairman, Heads of Working Committees and such other persons and experts who may be designated by the Local Community Officer. The Local Community Offices shall perform provisional administrative tasks as part of the municipal administrative structures and in accordance with the guidelines formulated by the SRSG in consultation with Department of Local Administration and with the aim to enhance protection and ensure access to public services for the communities they serve.

  The Local Community Offices, where needed, shall establish Working Committees and co-ordinate their work in areas of activity such as (indicative list):

    1. Health

    2. Education

    3. Economic Development and Reconstruction

    4. General Civil Affairs, Cadastre and Public Utilities

    5. Humanitarian Assistance

    6. Media, Communication and Transportation

  Local Community Offices shall be initially established in the following locations (indicative list):

Pristina Region Gnjilane regionPrizren Region Pec and Mitrovica
1.  Pristina
2.  Lipjan
3.  Kosovo Polje
4.  Obilic
5.  Gracanica
1.  Gnjilane
2.  Kamenica
3.  Novobrdo
4.  Vitina
5.  Donja Budriga
1.  Prizren
2.  Orahovac
3.  Dragas
1.  Pec/Kline/Istok
2.  Vucitrn
3.  Djakovica
4.  Mitrovica

b. Regional level

  Four interim UNMIK Regional Community Co-ordination Mechanisms corresponding to the above regions shall be established to co-ordinate the work of the Local Commuity Offices.

  The Regional Community Co-ordination Mechanisms shall be an integral part of the respective UNMIK Regional Administration of the region concerned.

  The Regional Community Co-ordination Mechanism shall be composed of the respective UNMIK Local Community Officers of the respective region of whom one should be the Head, and of local representatives of the respective Local Community Offices.

  The Regional Community Co-ordination Mechanisms shall co-ordinate the administrative tasks performed by the Local Community Offices in accordance with the guidelines formulated by the SRSG in consultation with the Department on Local Administration.

c. Kosovo-wide level

  A Division for Local Communities shall be established in the Department on Local Administration.

  The Division for Local Communities shall be directed by a Senior Officer of the Department of Local Administration.

  The Division of Local Communities shall be coordinating at Kosovo-wide level the work of the Local Community Offices and shall be formulating the policy guidelines for the functioning of the Local Community Offices and Regional Community Co-ordination Mechanism.

d. Implementaion

  The mandate of the Division on Local Communities within the Department of Local Administration shall form part of the UNMIK regulation on the Department of Local Administration.

  The establishment of Local Community Offices shall be implemented jointly by the Division on Local Communities and the UNMIK Regional and Municipal Administrators concerned.

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