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Teaching Peace in Kosovo.
A Report


Peter Jarman

TFF's Conflict-Mitigation team


Photo © TFF
Report of an IOM/TFF Mission to Kosovo, March 7 to 10, 2000


Poster at the Leadership Training Academy
for the - civilian - Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC
More pictures from Pristina

Kerstin Schultz' report




I was invited with Kerstin Schultz to contribute to training in conflict management skills of middle level leaders of the Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC. This followed the earlier involvement of Jan Oberg of TFF with a similar training exercise with the top leadership of the KPC. The three of us are members of TFF's Balkans mitigation team based in Lund, Sweden, which has made many missions since 1991 to Kosovo and other regions of the Balkans.



IOM are responsible for a comprehensive training programme for the KPC leadership that includes briefings for example from KFOR, the ICRC, UNMIK, and NGO's working in the region concerned with rehabilitation and safety. TFF was invited to contribute some training seminars on conflict management skills.

Kerstin Schultz and I were invited to give presentations to six groups of KPC middle level leaders, about 550 persons altogether in six locations.

The head of the IOM mission in Pristina, Pasquale Lupoli, advised us that the KPC were drawn from the KLA. Nearly 14,000 of them asked for employment with the KPC and 3000 were selected through a test similar to the British army tests for intelligence, aptitude and suitability. A senior leadership of about 46 were selected from these 3000, a medium level leadership of about 560 were also selected and the remainder were considered as rank and file. We were led to believe that this selection was rather arbitrary &endash; IOM appears only to have rejected outright those that were illiterate whilst the ex-KLA personnel had influence over those given seniority.

We asked people from IOM, KFOR, and OSCE about the role expectations for the KPC - what they might be doing in a few months time. The response was vague. I asked KPC groups what they perceived their role to be but their vision seemed to me to be clouded. I felt that the main purpose of creating the KPC was to employ ex-fighters in a civilian protection Corps, giving them a post-war role rather than inclining them in their idleness towards trouble making through for example drug trafficking, kidnapping and crime as was the case with the ex-Chechen guerrilla fighters.

The TFF training seminars were intended I believe to begin to change the mentality of the KPC from a fighter mind-set to one focused on the security and livelihood of all the peoples of Kosovo. Such an attitude change in principle requires intensive workshop practice in small groups over several weeks. There was I felt a very limited potential in working with large groups for the first time for only an hour or two. In retrospect I feel that a substantial but necessarily limited achievement was effected.


Photo © TFF
UN HQ in Pristina

My first training seminar was with about 260 of these KPC middle rank leaders in a cinema in Pristina on March 8. I was not previously advised that I would be expected to address such a large group in fixed seating accommodation. A set piece, well-orchestrated presentation was called for and I did not have adequate visual material &endash; well prepared overhead transparencies and slides &endash; to make a good impact on such a group. The interpreter from a market organisation was poor and I only had a minute or two beforehand to brief him. Nevertheless I believe that some attitudinal change took place amongst the audience who were very attentive. In asking for questions, I was surprised that a senior KFOR officer in the front row asked me to give specific advice for the situations in which the KPC would be working. Did he have a clearer perception of this role expectation than IOM or myself?


Photo © TFF

OSCE's HQ in Pristina

My second training seminar with about 60 KPC leaders took place in the basement of a hotel in Prezren on March 9 &endash; the expected accommodation on the ground floor had been double booked. This seminar went very well: good attention, keen and appropriate questions, and several participants asked me for my seminar notes in Albanian which alas I did not have. The IOM interpreters were poor and after about five minutes a KPC officer offered to interpret and he did a very good job. Several participants were professional men: a good response came from a medical doctor, for example.

My third seminar was held in a hotel in Pec on March 10 with about 50 KPC officers. The room had a very large oval table and we had to crowd around it. I gave the same seminar that went down so well in Prezren. Although the attention was good, the audience was lifeless when it came to comments and questions. A break of ten minutes would then have been welcomed before engaging the group in some but I was constrained for time as I had a long and uncertain journey that day to get to Skopje in time for my return flight.



Content and style of training seminars

I followed the spirit and intention of the agenda laid out in the IOM contract (as devised by Jan Oberg for his previous training seminar). What worked well at the second meeting was a modification of what did not work out so well with the very large first group in the cinema; the same agenda was used for the third meeting.

1. Brief introduction to myself and my engagement with post war situations in the Balkans and the Caucasus.

2. Emphasised that the KPC and myself were practising the same profession of protecting the lives and livelihoods of civilian populations against violence and suffering.

3. Violence is any action or structure that reduces or takes away fundamental human needs. Explored the hierarchy of human needs beginning with that of food, warmth, shelter, safe water, reliable utilities and the disposal of waste. Then we looked at security arrangements to which the KPC would contribute, and to societal and personal goals.

4. To reduce suffering and violence requires good conflict management skills. Without training in listening skills, conflict perception, negotiation and mediation, much suffering and violence could result.

5. Introduced concepts of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation through the classic Vietnam war photograph of a Vietnamese girl fleeing from violence and another photograph of her reconciled many years later with one of the American airmen who dropped napalm on Vietnam who asked forgiveness of her and received it.

6. Explored negotiation between people and groups with equal power. Used cartoon of boy and girl fighting over a single orange on a tree before recognising that the boy wanted the juice whilst the girl only wanted the peel for marmalade.

7. Introduced and discussed the triad of conflict formations, attitudes/emotions arising from the conflict &endash; mostly hidden from observation &endash; and the behaviour that can result from such emotions - that could be violent leading to a change in the conflict situation, deeper wounds of feeling and more violent behaviour.

8. Discussed win-lose (zero sum) and win-win negotiations with examples.

9. Discussed asymmetric unbalanced conflict situation using conflicts over territory focussing on latent conflict, conscientization, risks of over conflict as majority population seeks to realise its basic human rights through passive resistance (India) or seizing political control (Nagorno Karabakh). Explored both non-violent and violent resolutions to such conflicts emphasising that violent methods leave a lot of hurt to be addressed.

10. Remarked that ethnic cleansing leads to alienation and with the help of the media enemy stereotypes are created that increases the alienation and makes reconciliation more difficult. To effect changes in attitudes between such alienated groups requires face to face trust building meetings that can be facilitated by third parties. Gave examples from my experience of initiatives by women and young people who have crossed hard borders to meet the other side. (Referred to exercises in which I have accompanied such people across borders in Eastern Slavonia and the North Caucasus.

11. Hurt gives rise to the negative emotions of anger, hate, fear and depression.

12. Discussed forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation between individuals and groups after violence &endash; how can the hurt be healed? Described the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa.

13. Emphasised that we cannot be imprisoned by the past, by constantly analysing the hurt of the past and blaming that on some other party. We should take command of the present moment here and now to set up realistic goals for a better future.

14. Invited questions and comments continually.

15. Invited a Buddhist bell of mindfulness to sound in memory of all the victims of violence. (The second group sprang to attention at this point!)


Reflections and suggestions

I appreciate the need to train the KPC in conflict management skills intrinsic to building a peaceful and just society in Kosovo. This requires a major shift in attitudes and behaviour that cannot be effected simply by seminars to large groups. I recommend as a next step more intensive small group with the top leadership of the KPC over a period of several days and involving group exercises including role-play.

There are some well-trained conflict management facilitators amongst the civilian population of Pristina who could conduct some training in Albanian against a local cultural background. Naturally IOM would be apprehensive about choosing such Albanian facilitators that would be acceptable to the KPC but TFF with its long experience of Kosovo and its connection with Western NGO's with similar experience could help in vetting appropriate trainers.

I missed the presence of IOM staff at my seminars in a support role - on two occasions I only had interpreters of no great skills. I also missed having flip charts.

I learnt much from this brief mission and would be pleased to be included in further training missions.

On another occasion it would be good to have some notes in Albanian about conflict management skills to give out to participants.

Thanks to the IOM staff in Geneva, Pristina, and Djakova for their good arrangements and attention to detail. I was on the whole very well looked after.


Peter Jarman, 15 March 2000.



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