What lessons to learn? Particularly about the UN and its members?

By Jan Oberg
August 2, 2005

The international community’s conflict-management:
Short status by 2005

This blog explains why, by and large, the security approach – as described in the Prologue – has been a failure. The reasons for judging it a failure are many and pointed out through both the blog and book. They have to do with the paradigm/discourse itself but also with concrete, fatefully counterproductive decisions made throughout the crisis, one tying the hands of decision-makers when approaching the next situation.

Some of the – rather simple – methods and principles we suggest in our writings could have been used irrespective of whether the security or the peace approach had been followed. [Read more…]

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The UN in Kosovo praises potential war criminal – why?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 208 – March 10, 2005

Originally published here.

Danish diplomat, Søren Jessen-Petersen is the highest authority in Kosovo and SRSG, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, there. In spite of that, his unconditional embrace of Mr. Ramush Haradinaj, a former leader of the illegal Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and former prime minister in the non-independent Kosovo and now indicted for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal seems to raise no eyebrows in any capital, media or at the UN in New York.

All relevant links here. See also the TFF Kosovo Solution Series beginning here.

 

Mr. Søren Jessen-Petersen’s embrace of Haradinaj

In a statement on Haradinaj’s resignation Jessen-Petersen praises him for his “dynamic leadership, strong commitment and vision” and says that thanks to that “Kosovo is today closer than ever before to achieving its aspirations in settling its future status.” He calls him his “close partner and friend.” In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister had no choice but to voluntarily go to the Hague, Kofi Annan’s representative praises him for the “dignity and maturity” he has shown in deciding to do so. He also expresses his understanding of the “shock and anger” the people of Kosovo must feel at this development, “people” meaning of course only the Albanians and hardly the Serbs, Romas and other minorities living there.

Søren Jessen-Petersen continues [Read more…]

Ibrahim Rugova’s decade-long leadership in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF Pressinfo 140 – December 14, 2001

Originally published here.

 

Ten years ago it was not impossible to see…

Ten years ago, TFF’s conflict-mitigation team started working with Dr. Ibrahim Rugova and LDK people in the belief that a) they were the best dialogue partners Belgrade could hope to get, and b) they were the only political leadership in ex-Yugoslavia that advocated non-violence, albeit pragmatic. I have no evidence that they have ever read a line by, say, Gandhi.

We participated in formulating characteristics of the independent Kosova they aimed at: it should be a region with no military, open border to all sides and politically neutral. We helped devise negotiation strategies and facilitated the only written dialogue between them and governments in Belgrade between 1992 and 1996. The foundation produced a concrete plan for a negotiated solution. See Preventing war in Kosovo (1992) and UNTANS (1996).

Our team quickly learned to respect the complexity and difficulties of the Kosovo conflict. We were privileged to repeatedly listen to the deep-held views and animosities among various Albanians, Serbs and other ethnic groups in Kosovo as well as to many and different parties in Belgrade. We knew that the international community played with fire by not attending to this conflict and tried to alert it.

This shaped the basis for our later scepticism about the faked ‘negotiations’ in Rambouillet and NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia including Kosovo. A committed, impartial and competent international civil-political intervention could have mitigated the conflict in the early 1990s. And even if this opportunity was missed, bombings would not produce peace, trust, tolerance, reconciliation or a willingness to live and work together.

 

The West chose Kosovo’s militants as allies instead

Already ten years ago, Dr. Rugova was the undisputed leader of the Kosovo-Albanians. He received a lot of lip-service during missions to Western capitals. Reality was that Western governments in typical ‘covert operations’ from 1992-93 helped create, equip and train hard-liners behind his back, who became the later Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA or UCK. Dr. Rugova was marginalised and the U.S. in particular played with the KLA, which at the time was officially categorised by U.S. diplomats as “a terrorist organisation.” Later on, NATO performed the role of KLA’s airforce and the civilian UN mission (UNMIK) and the military KFOR-NATO missions were set up.

These missions officially declared UCK disbanded and illegal but let it continue operating partly as UCK/KLA and partly as the civilian Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC. The internationals consistently kept on allying themselves more with the leaders of the KLA, (Hacim Thaci, for instance) and KPC (Agim Ceku,for instance) whilst de facto accepting the illegal violence and mafia-based power structure established by them immediately after the war throughout the province.

In other words, Rugova and LDK were marginalised during the period when a negotiated solution could have been found, then during the Rambouillet process, then after the bombing and, finally, after the municipal elections when LDK won a landslide victory but did not get proportional backing by the international administration. As the standard response runs among the internationals: “we want to control and democratise the hardliners and keep them in the process, therefore we cannot also antagonise them.” Dr. Kouchner, the former head of the UN mission (UNMIK) was instrumental in institutionalising this cosy Western relationship with warlords and mafia leaders.

Since July 1999, this policy has yielded absolutely no results, except ethnic cleansing, destruction of democratic potentials, more mafia economy and criminality, and two KLA incursions, one into Southern Serbia and one into Macedonia.

 

UNMIK must now stop its vain courting of warlords

In this perspective, Ibrahim Rugova is an extraordinary figure in Balkan politics. [Read more…]

Macedonia and the Western press

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 121 – May 21, 2001

Originally published here.

 

PressInfo 118 offers an independent analysis of 11 reasons why Macedonia is at the brink of war. Number 119 deals with the way the United Nations was forced out of Macedonia and not employed in Kosovo at the time when it could have made a difference. In short, there was a hidden agenda. PressInfo 120 deals with how Macedonia is also responsible, and not only a victim, in the process towards its fatal crisis now.

This one deals with insufficient, or deceptive, media coverage, and with Western democracies.

 

Where is the free press?

We have explained that the 43,000 NATO/KFOR “peace”-keepers can not control or seal off the border around the territory it has occupied and is tasked with stabilising and controlling. Has it turned the blind eye to Albanian military activity all the time? This mission is much larger than the UN ever was in former Yugoslav territories and much more heavily armed.

Very few journalists have investigated the good story: how is it possible for KLA which was officially dissolved in September 1999 to keep on fighting (or be the root of fighting) inside both Serbia and Macedonia. Who helped them to do that?

If a UN mission had failed to the same extent, hundreds of journalists, experts and commentators would have renewed the anti-UN chorus of the 1990s: the UN is incompetent, bureaucratic, too expensive and inefficient, it’s too weak. There is no peace to keep! We need more muscle!

Now it is NATO, private American mercenaries, CIA in bed with more or less criminal, hardline elements in the Balkans and no similar (anti-NATO) chorus is heard. One may wonder: who controls the free press?

Will future historians – – like Chalmers Johnson today in “Blowback” – – reveal to us that journalists, NGOs, clergy and Peace Corps volunteers have functioned as cover for CIA and possibly other intelligence agencies and their cloak-and-dagger covert operations, that citizens around the world are targets of psychological warfare?

If you think this is to carry it too far, this is what a former CIA analyst, Melvin Goodman, says [Read more…]

Misguided motives led to the chaos in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

April 5, 2000 – on CNN Interactive

(CNN) — The conflicts that led to war and dissolution of the former Yugoslavia took shape in the 1970s and early 1980s, and their origins are much older. The paradox is that the international community’s self-appointed “conflict managers” have not treated the Balkan conflicts as conflicts.

Instead, they have wielded power and practiced Realpolitik disguised as peacemaking and humanitarianism.

The international community — a euphemism for a handful of top leaders – has historically been an integral party to the conflicts, not an impartial mediator. A policy of disinterested conflict analysis, mediation and conflict resolution would require different analyses, means and institutions (with just a minimum of training).

The leaders of the republics of the former Yugoslavia all did their best to destroy the federation from within. Today’s situation, however, is equally the result of the international community’s failed conflict management in four cases – Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo.

None of the peace agreements work as expected. The regions are more polarized and ethnically cleansed than before. Democracy is formal and imposed, not genuine. The countries are not armed simply for defense, they are militarized.

War criminals are still at large. Refugees have not returned in any significant numbers (except to Kosovo). The deeply human dimensions of tolerance, forgiveness, reconciliation and societal regeneration have hardly begun. No commissions on truth or history have been established.

Money – always plentiful for military purposes – is conspicuously lacking for the prevention of civilian violence and for postwar development. Integration into the EU may not take place for a long time yet.

Finally, and fatally, the U.N. missions to these countries have been thrown out, substituted with more expensive and heavy-handed missions, or discontinued prematurely.  [Read more…]

Misleading UN Report on Kosovo (B)

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 78 – October 3, 1999

Originally published here.

 

“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 the 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:

“The missions have set up border points to Serbia but until recently not to Macedonia and Albania. Public and state property is ‘taken over’ by the UN and KFOR, no legal regulations done or rent or compensation paid to the Yugoslav state. Visa is not needed to enter Kosovo. The German Mark is introduced and the Yugoslav dinar disappearing. Tax and customs are now collected to the benefit of Kosovo, with no proportion going to Serbia or Yugoslavia. A new army-like “Kosovo Protection/Defence Force” is established and has the old KLA commander at its head.

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. [Read more…]

Misleading UN report on Kosovo (A)

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 77 – October 3, 1999

Originally published here

 

“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 [Read more…]

NATO in Kosovo – Failed peacekeeping

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 72 – June 18, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“If a UN operation had gone this wrong from the beginning, if the mandate had been violated to this extent, politicians, diplomats and media worldwide would have cried ‘Failure!’

But since it is a US-lead NATO operation, independent-minded evaluations and criticism is conspicuously absent from mainstream media and the political discourse. The homogenisation of public opinion with NATO propaganda throughout the Western democracies is disheartening,” says TFF director, Dr Jan Oberg.

 

1. THE NATO DOG WILL WAG THE UN TAIL

While NATO troops have been in Macedonia the last 8 months, only on June 14 could the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan present a plan for a civil UN administration for Kosova. It puts the EU in charge of reconstruction and gives the OSCE primary responsibility for establishing democratic institutions, organising elections, and monitoring human rights. The UNHCR will take charge of the resettlement of refugees and displaced persons.

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) will administer the police, justice, schools, public transport, telecommunications, and power plants. An international police unit of up to 2,000 will oversee the establishment of a Kosova police force. On 12 June, Annan appointed UN Undersecretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil as interim – interim! – special representative.

SC Resolution 1244 consistently mentions “the rapid early deployment of effective civil and security presences” and consistently mentions the two components simultaneously. Reality on the ground is already totally different. Evident for everyone who wants to see, the NATO dog will wag the UN tail as it pleases, in time and in space. And it will take months before the civilians are in place and co-functioning. Remember that it took 5-6 months to get the former OSCE KVM mission of 1200 deployed – only to be forced out due to NATO’s bombing plan.

This is catastrophic. Precisely in this type of conflict, the need for social, village-based security provided by civil police and what the UN used to call ‘Civil Affairs’ staff is absolutely essential. While NATO is simply not trained for this or has any experience in it, the UN an OSCE and civilian NGOs everywhere have.

[Read more…]