Misleading UN Report on Kosovo
October 3, 1999
"Those who wrote the Report of the UN Secretary-General on the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) must have had other aims than accurate reporting. The report is biased, embellished, slanted. It omits important aspects which point toward the fact that this mission ignores Security Council Resolution 1244 on which it is based and is a failure in-the-making on its own criteria," says TFF director Jan Oberg upon his return from TFF's 37th mission to the region and his visit to Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade.
"The report (S/1999/987 of September 16) covers the period in which at least 150.000 legitimate non-Albanian (Serbs, Roma,etc) citizens were driven out of the province. Normally this would be called ethnic cleansing. It has happened under the very eyes of 45.000 NATO soldiers, 1.100 UN civilian police and thousands of other internationals, including the OSCE and EU. The report does NOT state that this is a fatal blow to both NATO and the UN. Res. 1244 states that the mission is to 'ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo' as well as, among many other things, maintain law and order, protect and promote human rights and ensure public safety.
The report states that 'KFOR deserves great credit for its efforts...' I do not think it does," says Oberg. "The international community condemned Yugoslavia for having, at the height of the war and bombing, about 40.000 soldiers and police in the province to maintain law and order and - as they saw it - to protect the Serb and other minorities. Now the total international presence is almost twice as big and IT has not been able to fulfil the centre-piece of the UN mandate: to preserve a multiethnic Kosovo in safety for everybody.
For all practical purposes, Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed by the KLA and other Albanians AFTER the international community arrived. This is neither regretted nor condemned in the report. Rather, the report states that 'senior Kosovo Albanian personalities, including the leadership of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), have voiced increasingly forthright public positions on tolerance and security for minorities. Senior KLA figures have denied KLA involvement in attacks and called for non-Albanians to remain in Kosovo and repeatedly affirmed their commitment to human rights, tolerance and diversity.'
The report, issued in the name of the UN Secretary-General, does NOT mention that KLA set up a self-appointed government, installed local leaders in virtually all municipalities and, thus, see themselves as the legitimate authority of Kosovo. In short, the report omits any mention of who is or must be made responsible for the recent ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. Could the reason be that the KLA and the political Kosovo Albanian leadership was NATO's ally during the war and the international community's partner now?
That its prime minister, Hacim Thaci, is the favoured leader - for the time being at least - by the United States and other leading actors? In short, that the West's partner is doing what we accused Milosevic of doing? The Yugoslav government was always pointed out as the culprit of ethnic cleansing of Albanians.
Fantastic stories circulated without evidence about Serb plans to drive out all Albanians from the region during NATO's bombing campaign. With perhaps 90% of all non-Albanians now driven out, the Kosovo-Albanian leadership is responsible for the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing in the Balkans since the wars started in 1991.
But those who wrote the text of this report - presumably UNMIK staff and the office of UNMIK head, Dr. Bernhard Kouchner in Pristina - see no reason to condemn this! The formulation of the report is: 'In the period since mid-June 1999, non-Albanians, primarily Serbs and Roma, have been the target for harassment, intimidation and attacks. As a result, many have left Kosovo.' And then it mentions that the Yugoslav Red Cross estimates that 150,000 have gone to Serbia and Montenegro.
They have been the target - by whom?
If Belgrade or Serb paramilitaries had ethnically cleansed 150,000 Albanians or more from their province, you may wonder how the international community - the UN, U.S. State Department, the media - would have formulated it.
At no point does the report state who should be made responsible for this latest ethnic cleansing campaign, there is not a word about Albanian atrocities, war criminals or any hesitation on the part of the West to co-operate with individuals, groups and institutions who is likely to have caused this exodus.
Neither does it regret that Albanians are intimidated by KLA and forced out of their temporary houses upon return, or punished for not wanting to join KLA.
The bias is put in perspective when the report immediately after states that: 'Hardening Serb attitudes towards Kosovo Albanians, driven in part by outside extremists, are helping to radicalise Albanians in Mitrovica.'
The authors of the report has evidently never noticed any outside extremists on the Albanian side, now or earlier. Neither have they observed hardening Albanian attitudes. The formulation also makes the few remaining Serbs the causal factor and the Albanians innocent, non-guilty of their own radicalisation.
If the basic character of Western policy and its UNMIK/KFOR mission had been genuinely humanitarian, this would have been dealt with in different terms. Human rights violations play a conspicuously modest role in this report!
Secondly, the report argues that demobilised KLA soldiers can be a source of instability in the future which may be true," says Jan Oberg. "However, the report enigmatically argues that there is not enough civil employment opportunities for these 10.000 fighters. One would otherwise believe there was enough to do in a war-torn society such as Kosovo!
So KFOR and the UN Special Representative, Dr. Bernhard Kouchner, are thus 'developing a concept for demobilisation of the KLA, offering individual members an opportunity to participate in a disciplined, professional, multi-ethnic civilian emergency corps' of which KFOR will provide day-to-day direction. This is what a few days later was established formally as the Kosovo Protection Force, KPF.
The report conveniently omits reference to the fact that such a force is not even mentioned in SC Resolution 1244 which talks only about demilitarisation.
We see here why the Rambouillet document stipulated neither a time table nor the modalities of demilitarisation of the Albanian side as it did for the Yugoslav side: 1244 says that KLA and other armed Kosovo Albanian groups shall 'comply with the requirements for demilitarisation as laid down' by the heads of KFOR and UNMIK.
"The UN and NATO missions in Kosovo violate Security Council Resolution 1244 which clearly guarantees the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The Security Council has just reaffirmed that Kosovo is a part of FRY. 1244 also demands the full cooperation of FRY in implementing the missions tasks. All this is pure pretence, as any visitor to Kosovo will learn - and mission members will tell you privately. The Report of the Secretary-General (S/1999/987 of September 16) does not even bother to mention whether KFOR/UNMIK cooperates with Belgrade!
It seems pretty clear, rather, that the international community has fooled Belgrade and considers it so weak that it doesn't even have to be polite or give the world the impression that it respects the country's sovereignty.
This coincides with credible press analyses that U.S. decision makers think Kosovo must become independent. The international presence of UNMIK and NATO in Kosovo base itself on the bombing campaign the legality of which remains highly disputable.
In its day-to-day operations, this presence amounts to a de facto occupation force that co-operates with Albania military and civilian leaders who have perpetrated gross human rights violations," says Jan Oberg upon his return from Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade, TFF's 37 mission to the region.
Here follow some facts:
Should we be surprised if the mineral resources and the Trpca mining industry complex in Mitrovica is soon 'taken over' by foreign capital? Dr. Kouchner serves at the moment as a one-man legislature: he can overrule any federal law and he promulgates legally binding "regulations" by the day.
Resolution 1244 stipulates that 'after the withdrawal an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serb military and police personnel will be permitted to return to Kosovo to perform functions' such as liaising with the international civil and military missions, marking and clearing mine fields, maintaining a presence at Serb patrimonial sites and maintain a presence at key border crossings (specified in Annex 2).
Reference to all this is conveniently omitted in the UN Report - that serves to evaluate the UN mission and is written, we must assume, by the UN staff in Pristina itself.
So much for the United Nations manifest, gross violation of FRY's sovereignty and territorial integrity. One understands why all this goes unmentioned in the Report. I am not a lawyer, but it looks to me as a new sort of international lawlessness and might-makes-right," says Jan Oberg. "There are many other quite strange aspects of this Report.
For instance, it conveniently avoids telling its readers that there are four government structures in Kosovo. KLA rapidly set up a government and local administration as well as other institutions before NATO got in. Naturally, it runs the place and it is not willing to hand over to the UN, as it believes it has legitimacy because of the military struggle to liberate Kosova. All personalities are appointed, nobody elected and there is, thus, no element of democracy. The earlier, elected, government and parallel society of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo under the leadership of its elected president Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, constitutes another government structure but it has been systematically undermined and marginalized by leading actors of the international community as well as by KLA. The third government structure - had it not been driven out by the UN, KFOR and KLA - was that of Yugoslavia. Had the KFOR and the UN not been so keen on getting rid of them all, there would have been more competent administrators, doctors, nurses, public utility technicians, teachers etc available today.
And finally, according to resolution 1244, the UN administration of Kosovo is to become the FOURTH government with all executive powers in this tiny territory - but with little chance of implementing its authority,
because: The present situation is a farce.
The total international presence encompass NATO/KFOR, the UN (UNMIK and all UN family organisation), OSCE, the European Union, over 300 NGOs, some media - perhaps as many as 70.000 foreigners! They all need interpreters, assistants, drivers, technicians and practical fixers. So, any local with some command of foreign languages and an administrative talent now seeks employment with international (better paying) organisations rather than with the local administration. The UN desperately needs experienced internationals and thousands of local staff to take over the executive power and complete administration of Kosovo as is its mandate - but a) they are not available and b) if they were available, they are likely to have to fight their way into the town halls or be polite assistants to those sitting there already appointed by KLA! UN officials catapulted into the towns as local government officials have no experience from Kosovo - one, I heard, did not know who Dr. Rugova is! Again, such minor problems is not mentioned in the UN Report. Absent is also any assessment of the wider stability of the region post KFOR/UNMIK. There is not a word about helping Serb refugees (about 1 million) in Serbia or the increasing destabilisation of Serbia that NATO bombings and KFOR's mode of operation have contributed greatly to." Oberg summarises:
"This extremely coloured report can do nothing but disservice to the international community's decision makers. It tells us that UNMIK and KFOR make significant progress. This may be true on small issues but in vital areas for the future, the mission is already beyond repair. If the international community gets no better evaluations of the strong and the weak sides of its missions, one wonders whether it would not be wiser to have some impartial - non-NATO and non-UN - expert group to evaluate its missions.
The real situation is obviously filtered and censored up to the point when the honest and visionary Secretary-General - who has to rely in the information he gets from missions - puts his signature on what is basically a falsifying picture of reality.
This is also the moment when the media ought to keep an eye on the situation.
But most left when there were no more dead bodies to film and we were told that 'peace' would come! Without more honest reporting and evaluation of progress, UNMIK and KFOR will rapidly disintegrate beyond repair. And mind you, I am not saying that I think everything could or should have been done differently from some more or less idealistic peace perspective. I am saying that the mission threatens to be a disaster as judged on ITS OWN criteria, mandate and mode of operation. KFOR and UNMIK spell further disaster in the region.
Members of the missions who are skeptical and deeply concerned - should be encouraged to voice that concern publicly and be rewarded, not punished, for doing so. The UNMIK and OSCE, not KFOR - Europe, not the United States - will be blamed when this goes as wrong as I fear. That must be avoided now.
The missions must be fundamentally reshaped and become both lawful, morally principled and accountable which they are not today," ends Jan Oberg.