UN struggling with Kosovo's parallel structures

Article published on Nov. 16, 2008
community published
Article published on Nov. 16, 2008
New Kosova Report - a non-profit information portal about Kosovo/a - got hold a secret facsimile from the former UNMIK chief Joachim Rücker sent to the United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno on 15 October 2007.
The letter describes how the Serb government was increasingly building parallel structures/services while the province was meant to be under authority of international administration according UN resolution 1244.

From my point of view Rücker’s letter highlights some aspects of recent Kosovo administration such as colonial attitude, ineffectiveness and contradictory actions of international community.

Partition with help of parallel structures

Rücker states that

accelerating partition prejudices ongoing political developments by creating a fait accompli where the K-Serbian-inhabited areas of Kosovo are both separated from the rest of Kosovo and made increasingly reliant on Belgrade. At the current pace, areas inhabited by K-Serbs will soon be capable of consuming basic utilities provided directly from Serbia without any communication with the rest of Kosovo or any respect for Kosovo's laws and regulations.

The letter is followed by a catalogue of buildings housing security, transportation, public administration, justice, healthcare, telecommunication, energy and financial institutions which are counterparts to the Serbia ones.

Rücker complains, that UNMIK's ability to respond to this situation is limited due in large part to our reliance on the willingness of KFOR participating states to utilise force to achieve objectives beyond providing a Safe and secure environment. Rücker's original letter with appendix (catalogue) can be found from here.

Colonial thinking

Reading Rücker’s complains one could think that he is envious of Serbia that it is making (better) his job by offering services to local population. His attitude is represents normal colonial top-to-bottom thinking where important is who has formal power and credit about actions.

UNMIK has had full executive power some nine years in Kosovo with huge financial resources (biggest per capita of all missions in the world) and support of majority of local population. In spite of this it has end up in a fiasco regarding its human rights and capacity building efforts more or less both majority and minority ethnic groups.

Administration for the people

While Rücker conception represents centralism and formality where important is who provides services – and gets credit of that – the total opposite way of thinking could be to take up a position of local stakeholders – view of a beneficiary of public services.

Besides political game the bottom-to-top reasons for parallel structures could be, that

there is not an alternative public services available, the services provided by by parallel structures are better than official ones, there is no access to official public services, or local people are afraid to go to use services they perceive hostile or are situated in hostile environment

Contradictory actions

One observation about contradictory actions I can make from my personal experiences. In Rücker’s catalogue was many buildings with parallel institutions which were not created only with help of aid from Serbia. Many schools, health centres, education, sport and culture facilities as well infrastructure projects got financing from USAID, EU, OSCE, DFID and even UN when they were working exactly same way than during Rücker’s time.

On the other hand international administration was building facilities and on the other hand they complain the use of them. The good thing with all this mess is that KFOR did not started military operations to destroy these public services even they are managed by “wrong” administrators.

More my views over Balkans and Caucasus one may find from my Archives:Blog.