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OHCHR in Serbia

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OHCHR in Serbia (2008-2009)

Human rights context

In view of the demands likely to arise as a result of Kosovo’s change of political status, OHCHR strengthened its presence in Kosovo from a small sub-office of the Serbia Field Office into a stand-alone office. At the time of writing, the office was in the final stages of expansion and was expected to reach full capacity at the end of 2007.

Political developments have had an impact on OHCHR’s work in Kosovo. The collapse of negotiations within the Security Council (which put the Ahtisaari Proposals on hold, together with plans for the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and deployment of an EU-led presence) and uncertainty over the outcome of the new round of negotiations have made it difficult to address the human rights situation. The level of human rights protection in Kosovo is generally unsatisfactory. OHCHR will continue to work with the existing international presence and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) in order to address possible accountability concerns.

A dialogue was established between UNMIK and UN and Council of Europe treaty bodies, including the Human Rights Committee. This was the first time a non-State Party reported to these bodies.


OHCHR’s work in Kosovo over the past two years has contributed to increased awareness and consideration of human rights-related matters by UNMIK and the PISG. The capacities of the UN agencies in Kosovo to implement a human rights-based approach have been increased. In the last biennium, OHCHR Pristina concentrated its efforts on strengthening government human rights capacities and providing advice and political support to the Ombudsperson localization process. The Office promoted the conclusion of UNMIK’s dialogue with UN treaty bodies, and fulfilment of UNMIK’s other human rights obligations. The Office worked with the UN Kosovo Team to integrate OHCHR’s planned activities, including training of staff and partners, with those of other agencies. It also advocated for the consideration of human rights in the Ahtisaari Proposals, and encouraged the implementation of transitional justice initiatives in the Kosovo status process.

OHCHR’s intervention in these areas has led to several tangible results, including the revision of a number of draft laws to ensure greater compatibility with human rights standards (two were related to the establishment and role of the Ombudsman). With support from the Office, the PISG developed and started to implement a human rights strategy.Working with the OSCE, OHCHR also helped ensure greater awareness among senior PISG officials of the need to create properly staffed and qualified human rights units within key ministries.

As part of the development of the Ahtisaari Proposals and the UNMIK transition plan, OHCHR’s dialogue with UNMIK resulted in several concrete policy decisions. By the end of 2007, UNMIK agreed to establish a focal point for human rights issues, to regularly convene a task force to address these issues, and started preparations for convening the much-delayed Human Rights Advisory Panel. OHCHR intends to build upon these achievements in the next biennium to ensure that it is regularly consulted by UNMIK, and any successor international actors, in policy discussions affecting human rights.

OHCHR also worked with the UN Kosovo Team on a number of advocacy initiatives that resulted in policy changes, such as the relocation of a number of internally displaced persons affected by lead poisoning. The Office assisted the Secretary and members of the Human Rights Committee in considering the report of Kosovo under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and helped facilitate dialogue between Committee members and the UN mission. 



Given the extensive human rights concerns and uncertainties remaining in Kosovo, the main objectives of OHCHR in the 2008-2009 biennium include identifying the human rights challenges that will emerge after UNMIK withdraws, and strengthening the capacity of the future Government to translate Kosovo’s obligations under international human rights instruments into effective laws, regulations and policies, including increased Government engagement with human rights mechanisms and bodies. Where necessary, the Office will be ready to provide technical advice to those international structures supporting Kosovo’s national institutions. OHCHR will also assist in facilitating the adoption of a comprehensive transitional justice approach by the numerous actors involved in various uncoordinated projects.

OHCHR’s interventions in these areas will seek to contribute to a smooth transition of human rights responsibilities from UNMIK to the successor authorities and a possible post-UNMIK international presence. This would include an effective “localized” national human rights institution, a functioning human rights advisory panel (and its successor body), conclusion and handover by UNMIK of its treaty body reporting and follow-up obligations, and progress in the field of transitional justice. Another expected accomplishment would be the strengthened capacity of Kosovo authorities to protect human rights. The Office will also endeavour to issue public reports. 

Contact Information


Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD)
Contact is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Europe and Central Asia Section
Tel. +41 22 928 9294 or +41 22 928 9279


EULEX police HQ (temporary address)

Human Rights Adviser


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