posted on TUE 7 FEB 2012 4:50 PM
Debate on Kosovo

On Wednesday (8 February), Council members will hold a debate on the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and be briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Farid Zarif, on the latest report of 31 January.* As on previous occasions, including the last UNMIK debate on 29 November, the foreign ministers of Serbia (Vuk Jeremić) and Kosovo (Enver Hoxhaj) have been invited to address the Council (the latter under rule 39 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure). It seems that Council members will primarily want to receive an update of the situation in northern Kosovo, which was the epicentre of tensions during the second half of 2011.

The latest report (S/2012/72) notes that the situation in northern Kosovo “continues to be tense and potentially unstable” and is influencing much of the political discourse at present. It warns that UNMIK might face increased challenges this year towards fulfilment of its priorities (promoting security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo) and that this might warrant “heightened attention” in 2012.

Council members are likely to want to hear more from Zarif on the progress made towards implementation of the Integrated Border Management agreement for crossing points between Serbia and Kosovo. There is also likely to be interest in the situation on the ground at these border crossings, since the end of the reporting period (15 January) and whether the situation has quietened down in recent weeks. (On 29 November, Serbian President Boris Tadić publicly called for the dismantling of barricades erected by northern Kosovo Serbs.)

Council members are likely to emphasise the importance of continuation of the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. There are also likely to be calls for the two sides to refrain from exacerbating the situation by engaging in inflammatory rhetoric. Some members will likely address the issue of the restoration of full freedom of movement in northern Kosovo, including that of EULEX - the EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo operating under UN authority. Others on the Council might emphasise the need for KFOR (the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo) and EULEX to act with neutrality, impartiality and in accordance with their respective mandates, including resolution 1244 (1999). It seems long-standing divisions remain in the Council on the Kosovo issue—and within the P5 in particular—stemming from recognition of Kosovo’s status. (China and Russia have not recognised Kosovo’s independence and have maintained the need for the international presence to be objective and status-neutral.)

While it appears that no outcome document is expected following Wednesday’s debate, Council members have not ruled out the prospect of discussing the draft resolution—first circulated by Russia in December—on illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo. A number of Council members seem to be of the view that while the allegations are serious, there is no need for a Council-mandated investigation in addition to that being undertaken by EULEX. Russia has previously said it would support any decision taken by Belgrade vis-à-vis proceeding with the text in the Council.

* During the debate on 8 February, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed the Council; Special Representative Farid Zarif participated in the debate via video teleconference (VTC).

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