Since the formation of the state of Kosovo, there have been disputes about the legitimacy of the state—some do not recognize the international legitimacy of this state to the current day. Kosovo faces a number of issues that are inherited from its long history of conflict; one of the key problems faced by the country and the future leadership of the country is the problem of security. Because of the conflicted nature of the territory, Kosovo faces significant internal and external pressures (Alexander 14-19; Shaw and Štiks 91). The entire region is war-torn, and this conflict has fundamentally altered the fabric of the current government of Kosovo.
Kosovo remains important in a number of cultural, historical, and geopolitical ways; it remains unique and a fascinating case study on the development of landlocked countries, and some of the lessons learned in Kosovo might eventually aid in the cessation of hostilities in places like Kashmir (Alexander 15-16). A thorough and complete understanding of the important factors that have governed the rise and fall of hostilities as well as the international relations developments made as a result of the formation of this state allow insight into the current geopolitical structure. The world has changed immeasurably since the end of the Cold War, and thus the relationships between nations are changing as well; the way the international community interacts with Kosovo and vice versa is demonstrative of those changes that have occurred on a global scale. The international community’s cooperation regarding events in Kosovo (and, at times, lack of cooperation) also provides great insight into relationship between nations in the international community.
A. Background of the Problem
As a nation, Kosovo has long been the center of conflict; at one time, the nation was part of the Ottoman Empire, but a series of conflicts in the early twentieth century tore down the vestiges of the old empire and left a number of warring kingdoms and states in its place (Alexander 5). The First Balkan War saw the first split of Kosovo: part of the country went to the Balkan League, while another part of the country was ceded to the Kingdom of Serbia (Alexander 6). Finally, a third part of the country was annexed by the Kingdom of Montenegro (Alexander 6). Although the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro would later become one large state, the two squabbled for a time over the pieces of Kosovo that the Ottoman Empire parted with (Alexander 6-7).
The annexation of Kosovo into various Balkan nations has been a problem since the early twentieth century; the fall of the Ottoman Empire marked the end of security and stability in Kosovo for quite a long period of time (Alexander 12). However, in 1998, the problem in Kosovo had become even more insecure: the two major ethnic groups of the country, the Albanians and the Serbs, were fighting each other tooth and nail for control of the country (Alexander 12). The problem with Kosovo is twofold: first, it is a nation of numerous ethnic groups, many of which have historically had conflicts with each other; second, it is a land-locked nation—there is significant geopolitical pressure on all sides of the nation, causing significant pressure from within the nation as well as from the outside of the country.
Fighting within Kosovo has happened between the ethnic Albanians and the ethnic Serbians, but it is heavily exacerbated by outside pressures (Xhymshiti n.p.). Outside influences were able to arm the people of Kosovo, and have been able to cause serious instability within the country as a whole. Indeed, the country is experiencing three separate forces: first, the internal ethnic conflict between the Serbians and the Albanians, second, the sectarian forces of Serbians and Albanians trying to break off from Kosovo as a country, and third, the unifying forces that have traditionally tried to maintain independence for the nation as a whole (Xhymshiti n.p.; Derks and Price 59-75; Alexander 13).
After years of conflict, Kosovo became a United Nations protectorate under the decree UNSR 1244 (Derks and Price 59-75; Alexander 17; European Commission 120). The intervention in the government of Kosovo was designed to be short-term in the hopes that Kosovo would show movement towards a fair and structurally sound government independently. In 2008, Kosovo declared official independence from all other nations, and established its own democratic republic under the 2008 Constitution of Kosovo (Xhymshiti n.p.). However, there is still continued oversight on the part of the European Commission and the United Nations; these bodies are invested in ensuring that the region remains stable, and it remains to be seen how stable and equitable the new government of Kosovo is (Xhymshiti n.p.; Derks and Price 59-75; Alexander 15; European Commission 119). However, early evidence demonstrates that while violence has not ceased in the new Kosovo, there are positive aspects to UN intervention that can and should be investigated.
B. Statement of the Problem
Kosovo is a territory that has been the subject of conflict for some time. Understanding the international develop of Kosovo’s new state is of fundamental importance to the stability of the region. Determining the impact of the new government in Kosovo on security and international relations in terms of efficacy and equity is important for the country as a whole. Some states continue to refuse to acknowledge Kosovo as a state; this refusal could, in certain cases, conflict with Kosovo’s ability to act as a sovereign nation in the international theatre. Through an examination of the international concept of sovereignty, the potential conflicts and struggles for the new government of Kosovo will be identified.
C. Purpose and Significance of Study
Establishing European rule of law in Kosovo was a unique solution to the problem of statehood, independence, and cessation of violence in Kosovo. Although Kosovo has its own internal governmental structures, set up by the European Union and the United Nations, there is still international oversight in the new government of the country to ensure that stability is maintained (Derks and Price 12-14; Xhymshiti n.p.). The purpose of this study is to investigate how the continued international oversight in Kosovo has changed the internal structures of the country, and how security protocols are established in the contested territory. Without a thorough understanding of the solution, it is possible that the situation in Kosovo might again unravel, particularly considering the only tenuous recognition that the current government in Kosovo has gleaned from the other sovereign nations of the world. The structure of the government holds promise, but without continued analysis and evaluation, failure is possible.
The international oversight in the new government of Kosovo is different than many other models that have been used in the past, so an extensive examination of the model used can possible allow new insight into the process of stabilizing unstable governments or territories. Many countries in the Middle East are destabilizing, and any new solutions would be welcomed to address these issues. Kosovo has not shaken off the problems that it has historically faced with ethnic and sectarian violence, but the country has been quite stable since the formation of the new government in 2008 (Derks and Price 12-14).
Ethnic and sectarian violence causes deep wounds in society, and developing an understanding of how to heal these wounds and form a functional government is one of the things that might also be gleaned from a thorough investigation of Kosovo as a new country. Indeed, as time goes on, new factors, solutions, or problems might emerge based on the path the new government chooses to take (European Commission 37-41).
Without studying the impact of the governmental oversight that has been designed for Kosovo, it is impossible to separate out the situational factors that led to success or failure for Kosovo from the universal structures that can be applied to other countries that are struggling with sectarian violence. Kosovo’s situation immediately following the Cold War is particularly analogous to many of the countries that are developing in the Horn of Africa and the Muslim world today. The conflicts in these regions are largely ethnic and religious, which means that lessons learned in the Kosovo case study could be directly applicable to the situations that are developing in the Muslim world today (European Commission 37-42). Although secondary to the social issues discussed in the research, economic growth is also of concern: a slow or declining economy undoubtedly plays a significant role in the understanding of the behavior of the people of a nation as a whole (European Commission 37-42). Economic impacts of the current policies will be discussed in relation to social and developmental factors for the country.
C. Research Questions
The proposed research questions are as follows:
Has international oversight over the new government of Kosovo contributed to the stability of the new nation?
In what way has international oversight of the new government changed the ethnic relationships within the country, and have tensions between sectarian, religious, and ethnic groups been reduced?
What are the potential problems faced by the new government due to the limited recognition of sovereignty by a number of United Nations member states? Will this limited recognition have legal, racial, security, or economic impacts on the country?
What are the potential long-term effects of international oversight of the government, and is there a chance that international oversight could increase political, economic, or social instability later in the country’s development?
How can the construction of a new government in Kosovo be understood through the constructivist lens, and what are the implications for the development of the European Union and European Commission as international governing bodies?
The methodology of this proposed study will be addressed in the methodology section of the document, and the theoretical framework for analysis will be discussed in the following section, entitled conceptual framework.
II. Conceptual Framework
A. Definition of Terms
For the purpose of clarity, a number of key terms have been defined. When the researcher deviates from the commonly held understanding of a term or there is some ambiguity about the meaning of a term or concept, it has been clarified in this section of the discussion.
“State” of Kosovo. Kosovo is recognized by 108 of the United Nations’ member states as an independent, sovereign state (European Commission 12). The researcher assumes hybrid sovereignty for the state, noting that the surrounding nations do not recognize the sovereignty of the territory, and that there is still international oversight into the government of the country (European Commission 12-14; Derks and Price 31-44). The researchers accept the international oversight by the European Commission to be temporary, and that this oversight is assisting Kosovo in the transition to full sovereignty and statehood. However, the research is done from the understanding that Kosovo has limited national sovereignty in a number of important areas, not limited to the current European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (European Commission 23-25). Kosovo currently has control of its own government and as recently as 2008 developed a representative democracy under a Constitution (European Commission 23-29).
Constructivism. Although there are countries in analogous situations, the situation is Kosovo has proved to be unique in a number of ways, and the solution for the problems in the country has been similarly unique (Xhymshiti, n.p.). The reasons for the continued problems in the country are the result of unique social, historical, and structural paradigms—many of which are unique to the former Yugoslavian region (Xhymshiti, n.p.). Understanding the post-Cold-War forces acting on the former Soviet Union countries in the Balkan region will give unique and extensive insight into both the global forces at play in the region and the region-specific forces (Wendt xii-xiv; Philpott 87-94; Ruggie 855). Constructivist thinkers suggest that there are socially constructed factors that exist in the international relations sphere; these socially constructed factors play a significant role in the development of structures in the international sphere as a whole (Wendt 77-81). This lens, rather than the traditional lenses of liberalism and realism, will be crucial to the analysis of the new Kosovar state.
B. Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations of Proposed Study
Of course, Kosovo is still very much in the early developmental phase of its life as a nation-state in the international sphere. There are many things that might limit the growth or the success of the nation-state, and even with a qualitative and quantitative review of the available research, the full picture of the future of Kosovo might not be known. However, the constructivist approach, particularly focusing on the post-constructivist understanding of international relations, can give the researchers an understanding of Kosovo’s current state. The research is also limited by the demographic information available on the country—because it has been a country a relatively short time, there is little demographic information available for any particularly long period of time, and little in the way of unbiased news or national art has been produced (European Commission 72-94). The constructivist view is limited by its unwillingness to declare overarching trends or universal truths; however, it provides an excellent framework for understanding international relations development in the region.
Research into the security structures of the current Kosovar state will be done through a long-term longitudinal analysis of the data available. During the 1990s, many studies were completed on the nature of the violence in the contested region; although not always reliable, a statistical analysis of the data available will be able to provide a historical baseline for the region. Tracking the levels of violence—along with a number of other demographic factors including religious affiliation, age and ethnic group—through the years of the conflict and after the implementation of UNSCR 1244 will allow the researchers an understanding of the functional security issues faced by the civilian population over time. In addition to the statistical analysis to be completed for the research, a thorough cross-sectional meta-analysis of the literature will be performed, in an attempt to better understand the issues related to the research questions proposed.
Qualitative information relating to the struggle in Kosovo will also be investigated, including firsthand accounts of the conflict whenever possible. These accounts will be gathered through personal interviews with civilians and politicians, if available for interview or comment. Serbian—or, more generally, anti-Kosovar state-- perspectives will also be considered in the qualitative section of the research, as these perspectives will provide researchers with an important understanding of the social and regional constructs that led the region to conflict in the years following the Cold War.
All interviews and surveys will comply with ethical guidelines and standards set forth by the institution, and each participant in the survey will be made aware of the project they are participating in. All traditional ethical structures for research involving human participants will be followed as strictly as possible, with a focus on humane and ethical scholarship.
IV. Works Cited
Alexander, Klinton W. "NATO's intervention in Kosovo: The legal case for violating Yugoslavia's national sovereignty in the absence of Security Council approval." Hous. J. Int'l L. 22 (1999): 403.
Derks, Maria, and Megan Price. "The EU and rule of law reform in Kosovo." Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’, The Hague (2010).
European Commission. "Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions." (2015).
Philpott, D. (2001). Revolutions in sovereignty: how ideas shaped modern international relations. Princeton University Press.
Ruggie, John Gerard. "What makes the world hang together? Neo-utilitarianism and the social constructivist challenge." International organization 52.04 (1998): 855-885.
Shaw, Jo, and Igor Štiks. Citizenship After Yugoslavia. Routledge, 2013.
Wendt, Alexander. Social theory of international politics. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Xhymshiti, Vedat. "Kosovo: The Newborn Country Celebrates Its 2Nd Birthday | Foreign Policy Journal". Foreign Policy Journal. N. p., 2010. Web. 3 Jan. 2016.