Accessed 16 May 2000

Security Council debates report of its mission to Kosovo

MAY 11 -- The international community had invested heavily in Kosovo and could not afford to fail even though the process of reconciliation was slow, the Security Council was told today during an open debate on last month's mission to the area by eight Council members.

Introducing the mission's report, the head of the delegation, Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, said the Council "could not have envisaged" the enormity of the UN's tasks in Kosovo when it adopted resolution 1244 (1999), which sets out the tasks for the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

While the situation in Kosovo was "extremely complex," and every day brought "a new challenge, or a resurfacing of the one tackled earlier," UNMIK and the international peacekeeping force (KFOR) were addressing their challenge with determination, he said. But ongoing staff shortages for both civil administration and police constrained UN operations, and must be addressed with urgency, he said.

There was a gradual "return to normalcy" in Kosovo, and economic activities were slowly picking up, the Ambassador said. The mission sensed among the different ethnic communities "a clear desire to live in peace together and engage in economic reconstruction and restitution of law and order."

However, security was still a "major and continuing challenge," Ambassador Chowdhury said, noting that some violent incidents during the mission made "us comprehend better the reality of the situation."

The upcoming municipal election and the civilian and voter registration process presented a major challenge for the UN in Kosovo, the Ambassador said. He underscored that the unresolved issues of missing persons and detainees continued to impede reconciliation, bringing to the Council's attention support among the different ethnic communities for the appointment of a Special Envoy to address these matters.

Ambassador Chowdhury's statement was followed by an intensive debate, in which all members of the Security Council took part. While some delegations expressed concern about the implementation of the underlying resolution 1244, others stressed that it was important to make sure that the UN mission was properly staffed and financed.

The Council mission, which included Ambassadors from Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Jamaica, Malaysia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, travelled throughout Kosovo from 27 to 29 April.

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 16/05/2000
ęS D Stein

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