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Jun 11, 2014 | Commentary

In an earlier blog post, we focused on the background and objectives of the Kosovo Internal Security Sector Review (ISSR) undertaken from 2005 to 2006. We will now explore how the process actually worked and how the various stages of the Review were constructed in order to produce a comprehensive and holistic examination of Kosovo’s security sector.

The first stage of the ISSR process was completed in April 2006. The findings from this stage became the basis for the public outreach programme conducted in the second stage. It was during this part of the Review that the perceptions of the people of Kosovo on what affected their personal and community security were obtained by a series of public consultation initiatives. Stage 3 then took the findings of the public consultations, together with the external threat review conducted in the first stage, and related them to the existing Kosovo Provisional Institutes for Self Government (PISG) institutions with responsibility for overcoming the identified threats. This stage was designed to determine if these institutions had the capacity to deal with these threats.

Stages 4 and 5 were based on the findings of the review of capabilities at stage 3.  During these two stages, the ISSR researchers identified areas where capacity-building measures would be required.  Stages 6 and 7 then began the process of identifying what would be needed to make the PISG capable of managing the security sector in Kosovo without international community assistance, including the creation of new ministries and departments.

This work led to the formulation of a Security Sector Strategy, including the identification of new institutions and oversight mechanisms required in the event of Kosovo gaining independence. Finally, the ISSR was charged with preparing approaches that could be presented to potential donors in order to obtain funding for capacity building initiatives. The information gained was encapsulated in the ISSR Final Report.[1] It also led to a follow on UN Development Programme initiative called the Support to Security Sector Development project, which ran until 2009 and was designed to take the ISSR recommendations and bring them to fruition.  In order to do so, it was necessary to gain funding and, on occasions, expertise to realise this aim. It was also necessary to ensure that both Kosovars and the international community were comfortable with the proposed changes and enhancements to Kosovo’s security sector mechanisms.

A core objective of the ISSR was to expand public awareness and dialogue on issues of security in Kosovo. In addition to the municipal consultative meetings conducted in stages 1 and 2 of the process, a public outreach strategy was developed.  The outreach campaign had several phases:

  1. Awareness Raising through consultative town hall meetings and media tools, such as TV and radio spots, billboards, press conferences, and interviews with members of the ISSR Secretariat and members of the PISG.  These were used to explain the ISSR programme to the population, with the aim of encouraging participation in the public consultation process.
  1. Deepening Understanding and Encouraging Public Ownership of ISSR process and security issues through use of outreach tools such as publications and TV advertising. This included a series of debates on UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo public service television and local radio stations.
  1. Collection of Public Input, by the use a “Have Your Say” bus that travelled throughout Kosovo taking direct comment from the public. Suggestion boxes were placed in public buildings across Kosovo to allow citizens to drop off their comments on security. Finally an “ISSR hotline” allowed the public to express their opinions either via telephone or email.

The ISSR process also examined the more traditional aspects of the security sector. It reviewed the Kosovo Police Service, the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), the Kosovo Correctional Service, the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs, the Security Services, and Border and Customs Services. It then made recommendations for the future security architecture of an independent Kosovo. These included the creation of a National Security Council, Assembly Select Committees on Security, Policing, and Intelligence, and suggested mechanisms for the creation of a Kosovo Defence Force. An obstacle encountered by the Review team was the lack of any authorised defence force, over and above those provided by the international community through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and UN. In addition, intelligence services existed in Kosovo but were firmly linked to political organizations and were outside the democratic control of either the international community or the PISG.

The ISSR had to consider whether it should make recommendations on the creation of a defence force given the uncertain future of the province. The majority of Kosovars believed that the KPC, which had been born out of the Kosovo Liberation Army, was a Kosovo national army in waiting. This was anathema to the minority Kosovo Serb population and to the authorities in Belgrade, who saw the members of the Corps as outlawed guerrilla fighters and therefore inappropriate as the basis of a future defence force. Some members of the Kosovo Contact Group also held this view. However, it was decided that the KPC had to be included in the Review; otherwise the will of the majority community on this issue would prevail without input from the minority population.

Due to the sensitivity surrounding the future of the KPC and the creation of a Kosovo national army, the ISSR team found that their decisions on this issue were limited. The ISSR co-ordinator held frequent talks in Vienna with President Ahtisaari to ensure that ISSR recommendations did not jeopardize the delicate Final Status Talks or alienate regional powers. The eventual ISSR recommendation was that a decision on the creation of a national army must wait until the status of Kosovo was resolved and the international security structures – in place under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) that mandated the UN to administer the province until its future was determined – were either downsized or withdrawn.

It was therefore necessary for the ISSR to project its recommendations into the future, beyond the life of UN Resolution 1244, while also ensuring that regional and international concerns were taken into account. Thus the ISSR Secretariat determined that it must consider a security architecture for Kosovo that could only be applied if independence, however conditional or limited, was granted to the province. It recommended that the KPC should be disbanded and an internal security service called the Kosovo Defence Force be formed, which would provide civil emergency response and ceremonial roles and be administered by a Ministry of Defence. (The Kosovo Defence Force was later renamed the “Kosovo Security Force,” because of ongoing regional and international sensitivities about Kosovo having a national army. For the same reason, the Ministry of Defence became the “Ministry for the Kosovo Security Force.”)

The ISSR Final Report was published in early 2006, with the Forward being signed by the President and Prime Minister of Kosovo. It was briefed in Belgrade, London, New York, and Washington, DC to both civilian and military audiences and was well received (although some traditionalists objected to the fact that it had strayed beyond the boundaries of the police, judiciary and defence to encompass the economic, health, educational, and other security issues identified by the Kosovo population).

The ISSR Final Report was to provide the foundation for the building of the security sector in Kosovo over the next six years and its methodology was even exported to Timor-Leste, where it was used as the basis for that nation’s SSR programme. In 2012, a home-grown security sector reform project was launched in Kosovo and that will be examined in a future blog post.


Anthony Cleland Welch OBE, a retired British Brigadier-General, holds a PhD in Security Sector Management and spent the past seventeen years working in post-conflict and developing countries. In 2006, he was coordinator of the Internal Security Sector Review of Kosovo.



[1] Cleland Welch, A., Kondi, S., Stinson, D., von Tangen Page, M. (eds.) (2006) Kosovo Internal Security Sector Review. Pristina: United Nations Development Programme.