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Many models for a
future Kosovo

 Kosovo Solution Series # 9


PressInfo # 217

 April 7, 2005


Aleksandar Mitic, TFF Associate & Jan Oberg, TFF director


Four ways of making peace

By way of starting, some words of caution. What's the egg and what's the hen in the question about the future status of Kosovo? What is form and what content, the means and the goals? People who strongly want independence tend to see that as both a means and the goal: "if only we become an independent state, everything will be fine." There have been enough post-independence and post-colonial conflicts and wars in the world for anyone to see that this is not necessarily so.

With the decision-making on the future status - form - moving to the top of the international agenda, it is likely to tilt the general attention away from issues of substance, i.e. what kind of Kosovo - internally and as a unit in the region - will be granted a certain status?

In substantive terms, the general, basic issues are still: language, education, access to government civil services (including police and security), social services, land, ownership, control over natural resources, forms of representations in local and regional power structures, prospects of economic development, high-level respect for human and minority rights, and a political culture of democratic tolerance: respect for majorities and more respect for minorities because they could be run over by a majoritarian culture.

And the specific post-war, basic issues are still: reconciliation, trust-building, good neighbourly relations, peaceful community, practical ways to remember what happened but seeking no revenge (e.g. memorials, war/peace museums, churchyards, decent teaching of history, and general cultural therapy such as theatre, poetry, music and art to deal constructively with the past). It is peace education in the entire school system, teachings of non-violence as an option in human affairs, teaching negotiations and dialogue, it is the empowerment of citizens (women and youth in particular) to participate effectively on all levels and without a grain of fear.

To put it pointedly, the future status of Kosovo and the region around it is about democracy, peace and human civilisation in one. It won't be achieved by any number of delegations making decisions with each other and with the international community alone. True, it will require some top-down elite, high-level negotiations, but sooner or later they will turn out to be null and void without citizens' participation.

So there is the shallow formal peace of status, legal issues and treaties being signed. And there is the deep sustainable peace of citizens going for reconciliation, building a new peace culture through their hearts being changed. Combine this with elite peacemaking and broader social peacemaking and we get four roads to peace for Kosovo and the region:


1. Shallow peace made by elites from the top - the most typical in former Yugoslavia, often coupled with threats and bombings, i.e. forced, not voluntary peace agreements.

2. Shallow peace made by citizens from below - having been seduced to believe that independent Kosova would be the solution to everything and that peace (including EU and NATO membership) is handed down to them by elites.

3. Deep peace made by elites - quite unusual but many individuals in UN and other missions around the world see this need every day on the ground and support it on the fringe of their official mandates. Ignored in diplomatic academies and media.

4. Deep peace made by citizens - there has been "peace pockets" and "peace lords" in several places in former Yugoslavia. See more examples in the section Peoples' peace-making below. Likewise largely ignored by diplomats and media.



Precedents and models - high level and legally based

Every conflict has some unique features and shares some features with about every other conflict. Kosovo is special but no more so than there exist precedents and models around the world and in the literature that could inspire the work towards a final settlement. Let's mention some, at random to illustrate the diversity of existing models.

As mentioned above, there are the (only) three mentioned cases of peaceful secession, Norway, Singapore and Slovakia. There are catchwords for solutions to minority and related problems such as the Åland Islands between Sweden and Finland (1917-51), Trieste (1945-54), South Tyrol (Bolzano)-Trento (1960-71), Schleswig-Holstein (Germany and Denmark); there is Denmark/Greenland and Denmark/the Faeroe Islands. There are the Saami (Lapp) people of Norway, Sweden and Finland. Hong-Kong (although not an ethnic-based conflict) is a secessionist conflict that has been solved by the formula of one-country-two-systems. There are the Azores and Madeira as (very) autonomous provinces of Portugal.

Or, somewhat differently, take Burundi and its present peace process. The Hutu majority and Tutsi minority in Burundi are itching their way into power-sharing, a new constitution, demobilisation and disarmament, re-socialisation of child soldiers and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission; they do so on the background of several decades of violence having killed at least 300.000. And Burundi is one of the world's five poorest countries. In passing it's worth observing that Burundi, given this extremely difficult background and very little international attention and assistance, has moved much more impressively in the direction of peace during the last 2 years than Kosovo has during the last 6 years. You find no one who argues for splitting the country in a Tutsi and Hutu part; what you find is a genuine war fatigue and a new remarkable will to peace among the far majority.

Below follow some thinkable models at random, no priorities made. They do not exhaust the possibilities - many more are found in the recommended literature at the end. They serve to stimulate the debate and bring inspiration for those who are not stuck in the rigid thinking of "only one solution: ours" (whether Serbs/Albanians/international community) and thus seek to find the optimal, the creative, the viable and the right balance between general historical experiences and the specificity of this conflict.



Thinkable status models for Kosovo in the larger region

- Confederation of states (Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo).

- Confederation of autonomies - or of ethnic minorities - in the wider region, the latter two with no right to secession but to influence governments in the whole region.

- Self-government - making all decisions pertaining to internal Kosovo affairs, close to a Serbia-Kosovo confederation, depending on modalities. Close to:

- Substantial autonomy within Serbia.

- Substantial autonomy within Serbia + various kinds of double affirmative action such as higher proportion of seats and ministerial posts for minorities in Serbia's Parliament than their proportion of population and the same for Serbs in Kosovo.

- Complete independence with special provisions such as de-militarisation, high minority protection, non-alignment, open borders, no unification with others, protection of Serb Orthodox churches, etc.

- Independence as a process in phases - with clearly stipulated obligations of Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and the international community.

- Division/Partition - with double substantial autonomy and high minority protection for both Serbs in Northern Kosovo and for Albanians in Southern Serbia.

- "Guarantor states" arrangement - whatever high-level autonomy or even independence Kosovo's development is overseen by a number of states with the right to mediate and arbitrate. Used in Cyprus 1960 and in the Rio Protocol for Peru and Equador. (1)

- Condominium - the idea that Albania and Serbia, perhaps Montenegro and Macedonia too, share the responsibility for Kosovo with its people and build solid co-operative structures.

- Kosovo as a European region - Kosovo and possibly other units in the region together granted a special status associated with the EU.

- A Balkan Council - modelled upon the Nordic Council in Scandinavia with representatives from all regional governments but also from NGOs and minorities.

- An OSCE-like process - Kosovo as a unit in a broader Balkan co-operative structure, ranging from a formal con-federation to close trade relations and economic co-development, something that could be arranged as part of an OSCE-process over some years along the lines of the old one for all of Europe.

- Trusteeship - Kosovo as a trusteeship area of the UN or of the EU, or both.

- The Hong Kong model - one state-two systems.

- Observer status internationally - multi-ethnic teams representing Kosovo are granted observer status in relevant international organisations.

- Combinations of one or more of these alternatives...



Thinkable models for Kosovo itself

- A citizens' Kosovo where the democratic political culture is based first and foremost on the concept of citizens and not on ethnic identities, a truly democratic and tolerant political culture.

- Affirmative action inside - higher proportional seats and ministerial posts for minorities in Parliament than their proportion of population, the same for government employees, police, teacher and media people.

- Rotational collective presidency/leadership allowing for all ethnic groups to be leaders from time to time.

- Open but internationally protected areas for minorities' culture, history and religion.

- Consociation or consociational democracy - a system of power-sharing that seeks to resolve differences through techniques of consensus rather than majority rule; meaning a civic equilibrium that guarantees a share of governmental power to the political elites of all major parties, incorporating the mass of their popular support into a system of proportional representation and coalition governments (2+3).

- Cantonisation - each with more municipalities in it and with its own constitution, legislature, government and courts.

- Serb-dominated cantons could be co-operating directly with Belgrade if they so wish about civil affairs; Belgrade having no influence in Kosovo outside these (depending on status decided for the province of course).

- Division/Partition - the north becoming an autonomous province of Serbia, the rest being independent. Border drawn after referendum.

- Combinations of one or more of these alternatives...


Then there can be various combinations of internal and external models and principles. Simply put, there are so many possibilities - and many more than these - between going back to pre-1999 and making Kosovo an completely independent state. To argue that there is only one solution is perhaps psycho-politically understandable but intellectually it does leave a lot to be desired.

How do we get to the final status, then? Through dialogues, fair listening, consultations, research inputs, gathering ideas and models from around the world, exploration. Then talks and then negotiations.

On the latter, some inspiration on how to set up a professional negotiation mechanism can be found in TFF original 1996 proposal for just such a mechanism, Memorandum for Understanding between the UN and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia concerning a UN Temporary Authority for a Negotiated Settlement (UNTANS) in Kosovo. If their mandate would be changed and re-directed towards a negotiated solution, UNMIK and other international presence - and supplemented with NGOs - could form a solid negotiation facility needed to arrive at a sustainable and for all satisfactory status for the province. The publication is available here.

By this we are coming back to the fundamental point raised throughout this series: no settlement will work well if the will to reconciliation, tolerance and peace has not taken root throughout the citizenry. Structures and status that just hold hate and revenge at bay - making everybody look good, say and do the right things until the day after a status agreement is signed - won't qualify as a solution.

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More often than not, governments and their non-professional conflict-managers usually simply don't think in these terms. They are neither educated nor trained to see such broader options. They act as if they believed that legal approaches coupled with money and some carrots or sticks will make people peaceful in their hearts and minds. Truth is, as seen elsewhere, such an approach prove, sooner or later, to be a recipe for future violence.

So the qualities of the society and the will to peace of the people are much more important than formal status and legal structures. It all hinges upon a new orientation by the citizens of Kosovo and surroundings, a will to acknowledge on all sides what happened and move on towards a better, more rewarding future for all.



It takes time and the international community must be principled

What will that require? First of all, it takes patience on all sides and time. To heal societies and souls in a deep sense after war takes a lot of time. It's one of the main rules of thumbs in the trade. Negotiations too may well take years. It clashes with the wish of politicians to force through solutions while they are in charge; four-year terms are not exactly conducive to peace-making in complex conflicts. Thus, the many quick-fix settlements here and there, Bosnia for instance: shallow peace meaning no war but also no real, sustainable peace. Quite a few diplomats in the international community must be assumed to know this very well but some still try to circumvent the substantial dilemma that faces them in Kosovo.

Quite remarkably, the Danish foreign minister Per Stig Møller wrote in the Danish Politiken on April 2, 2005:

"It cannot be expected that all the standards will be met before late summer. That is the reason why the international community should pay attention to the will to meet these requirements rather than to whether they have been fulfilled." (Our italics and translation from Danish).

This is pure slippery slope and contravenes the logical meaning of "standards before status" as well as formulations like these in UNMIK's Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan (KSIP) of March 2004:

"The 'Standards for Kosovo' remains the target for Kosovo. Progress against this target will be the basis for any review in mid-2005 to begin consideration of Kosovo's final status." And, a little later with reference to safe returns and freedom of movement of people driven away from Kosovo: "to ensure that planned actions can effectively fulfil these essential standards."

This document is clearly about actual progress and fulfilment and not about the mere will to fulfil them.

SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen has stated that status talks will start in a few months - so he seems to know already that the review will be positive. He also maintains that they won't take years, only months. One is inevitably reminded that those who drew up the Dayton Peace Plan for Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1995 thought that it would be implemented on the ground in about a years' time.



People's peacemaking - basic and informal

Let's mention at random some of the things that will be needed for any status and structures to function well and solidify peace in the region:

- Offer people a positive vision. Carrots work much better than sticks.

- A truth and reconciliation commission.

- Encourage forgiveness by talking about it, not forcing it.

- Invest in education, including internationalised education. Include that and peace and conflict education throughout the school system and higher education.

- Peace and non-violence training in the rest of society - as important as courses on human rights and on how to start up small business. Use NGOs, churches and media.

- Give the young chances so that they come back if they have gone abroad.

- Use the media for public education, including telling good stories and stories of how people have created peace elsewhere.

- Open up the mental horizons that have been smashed by militarism and nationalism, undo the macho-militarist mentality that exist in certain circles. Offer trauma healing and other socio-psychological support to those who were in the war (often young low-educated boys) and to the victims (women, children and youth).

- Trust-building and tolerance education for all.

- Expand "democracy" to mean not only some kind of elections but an entire political culture of tolerance and respect for all kinds of minorities.

- Active use of the elements of peace culture - sports, theatre, poetry, music, arts etc - for peaceful development rather than to worship the culture of killing.

- Help develop institutions and mechanisms for future violence prevention and crisis management, build indigenous capacities.

- Memorials for all, all the names in one marble wall, not separate walls; common places of worship and remembrance - not "their" and "our" memorial park. After all Albanians and Serbs share the sorrow, the mourning and their fundamental humanity. They share the pain of having lost their lost loved ones.

- Peace museums - giving people a sense of their own struggles as part of a worldwide history of peace. Learning from others and not feeling that one is alone increases the energy.

- Create local peace zones, from village halls to clusters of municipalities.

- Offer stimuli for multiethnic co-operation into development aid - you get more assistance, loans and credits from abroad if you employ all ethnic categories in your project.

- Institute peace and reconciliation awards to local citizens who have taken constructive initiatives, built bridges for peaceful co-existence, locally, in the province and between Serbia and Kosovo.

- Invite citizens to use the Internet, e-mails etc to participate in country-wide brainstorms on how to solve problems and move forward towards a good Serbia and a good Kosovo. Give people an opportunity to share their experiences, help good ideas to spread fast throughout society.

- Encourage positive vision and new ideas in general. Every human being has the capacity, but nationalism, militarism and other fundamentalism have taught them that they were traitors if their expressed them.

- Encourage thinking beyond your own little place and your own lifetime (space and time).


In the book War Prevention Works, Dylan Mathews lists the following ten lessons to be learnt from 50 cases of people making peace:


1. To meet and talk about peace, when others can see only violence as a solution, is no wimpish activity.

2. The support of outsiders is often critical to ensure the survival of peace workers.

3. Nearly half of all interventions for peace were done with some spiritual basis.

4. Slow trust-building among people is often necessary before formal talks.

5. Business has a powerful role to play.

6. Traditional processes of mediation and conflict-resolution can be key.

7. Women frequently offer key ingredients, including the expression of feelings, for peacemaking.

8. Far more evaluation of experiences ought to be done.

9. NGOs have become more effective but cannot replace government activities.

10. Peaceful intervention can be extraordinarily cost-effective compared with military intervention. But, sadly, many peace initiatives have failed for lack of funds or resources when they could have made a difference.


These are lessons that will have to learnt by international government and near-government conflict-managers. It would be wise to recognise a few of them in the future work for peace and stability in Kosovo and the Balkan region.

The conflict about Kosovo is a "hard" conflict, but it requires creative soft means to solve it. If it is solved in a good way - means and goals being one - it would inspire and serve as a model case, for many other conflicts around the world. It would offer hope to a wider world in which so many long for peace, justice, welfare, development and security.

Millions of people who have suffered from war know better what peace means than a few leaders who have benefited from war. They have more honest incentives to want peace! And the peace they choose will take longer time but be deeper and democratic and thus much more sustainable.



1. The Rio Protocol represents a special method of third-party dispute settlement. The treaty's provisions were overseen by four "Guarantor" states (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the United States - four of the most powerful countries in the region). The Guarantors are legally obligated to mediate - and possibly arbitrate, which they eventually did for two major remaining impasses - all aspects of the Ecuador-Peru border dispute. As such, the Rio Protocol exemplifies not only the variety of international dispute-settlement mechanisms, but the power of international law through the observance of treaty obligations.

2) Kat Gilbreath has defined consociation in this manner in The Yale Political Quarterly "Consociation is based on the premise that deeply divided societies can be brought into manageable civic equilibrium by guaranteeing a share of governmental power to the political elites of all major parties, and then incorporating the mass of their popular support into a system of proportional representation and coalition governments. The primary distinguishing feature of consociation is cooperation among such elites."

3) Kenneth D. McRae in his Theories of Power-Sharing and Conflict Management in Joseph Montville's anthology (see recommended literature) sees the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria as the four classical European cases of consociational democracies. The distinguishing feature is "the ability of the leaders of the contending subcultures to avoid the dangers of intergroup conflict through cooperation." Consociation is about accommodating competing, different constituencies into a system of consensus-making at the elite level; he also uses the metaphor of "a delicately but securely balanced scale."



Recommended literature

Gabriel Partos, BBC, Europe's autonomy solutions

Peter Harry and Ben Reilly (eds.), Democracy and Deep-Rooted Conflict. Options for Negotiators, IDEA Handbook, Stockholm 2003.

Joseph V. Montville, editor, Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, Lexington Books 1991.

Johan Galtung and Carl G. Jacobsen, Searching for Peace. The Road to Transcend, Pluto Press, London 2000.

Hurst Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination. The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 1990.

TFF, Preventing War in Kosovo, Lund, Sweden 1992

TFF, UNTANS. Conflict Mitigation for Kosovo, Lund, Sweden 1996.

Hugh Miall, The Peacemakers. Peaceful Settlement of disputes since 1945. Macmillan and Oxford Research Group, 1992.

Dylan Mathews, War Prevention Works. 50 stories of people resolving conflict, Oxford Research Group, Oxford 2002.

European Centre for Conflict Prevention, People Building Peace. 35 inspiring stories from around the world, Utrecht 1999.

Paul van Tongeren, Hans van de Veen, Juliette Verhoeven (eds), Searching for Peace in Europe and Eurasia. An overview of conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, 2000.



The TFF Kosovo Solution Series

# 1
Why the solution in Kosovo matters to the world

# 2
The media - strategic considerations

# 3
The main preconditions for a sustainable solution to the Kosovo conflict

# 4
The situation as seen from Serbia

# 5
The arguments for quick and total independence are not credible

# 6
What must be Belgrade's minimum conditions and its media strategy

# 7
Nations and states, sovereignty and self-determination

# 8
Positive scenarios: Turn to the future, look at the broader perspectives

# 9
Many thinkable models for future Kosovo

# 10
Summary: From "Only one solution" towards democracy and peace


Relevant background links for this series.



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