The emergence of Kosovo as a modern nation-state is a recent development, tracing its immediate roots to the 1990s. At this time Kosovo was still a province of Serbia and under the authority of Serbia's leader, Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic went to extreme measures to put down the insurgency that had arisen in Kosovo in the form of the Kosovo Liberation Army: he authorized the massacre and expulsion of tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. The international community reacted and NATO commenced a three-month bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999, resulting in Milosevic's withdrawal from Kosovo. UN Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under the authority of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, maintaining the territorial integrity of Serbia but giving UNMIK, as it is called, complete control over the affairs of Kosovo
[...] After Serbia's withdrawal from the country in 1999, resources for this “anti-statist civil society” dwindled and were replaced with an influx of foreign donations and resources as the rebuilding process began. Over the course of the next few years, civil society and the NGOs that made it up blossomed, with nearly 2,500 NGOs officially registered by 2004. These organizations began their time in Kosovo by focusing on “humanitarian assistance operations, then by empowerment of local citizens, community development, and, most recently, advocacy and lobbying.” The major INGOs operating in Kosovo as the post-war reconstruction period began include: UNMIK; UNESCO; the IMF; the World Bank; the International Red Cross; NATO; as well as various other UN- and EU-sponsored organizations. [...]
[...] The inexperience of the organs of PISG and its individual members is another crucial disadvantage facing Kosovo. While Kosovo's civil society has had experience at self-management, the elected politicians and political appointees within the PISG are still novices at managing the intricacies of a democratic constituency. They are still learning how to develop policy, implement regulations, deliver services, and respond to citizens. At the same time, local NGOs and civil society are still finding out how to ascertain and represent citizen interest, participate in public policy making, and monitor and hold accountable the government. [...]
[...] Finally, ethnic Albanians may make up 88% of Kosovo's population, but the remaining including Serbs, deserve an equal place in Kosovar society and are at particular risk, especially given Kosovo's history of ethnic cleansing. This last point is of special importance given Albanian demographic dominance of Kosovo: civil society organizations are necessary to serve as places where ethnic divisions may be forgotten so that now minority Serbs will not be mistreated the same way Albanians were under Milosevic's regime. Civil society is also necessary for Kosovo to develop strong and capable leaders to serve in the democratic institutions of its new government. As I mentioned previously, Kosovar politics is still seen as a game of winner- takes-all. Additionally, Kosovo continues to experience a serious brain- drain of qualified leaders, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, for reasons I will explain below. [...]
[...] Kosovo has a storied history related to civil society and faces a number of unique opportunities and challenges in trying to develop one of its own. Presently, it is reasonable to say that change has come from the top and the outside for long enough; initiative now rests in the hands of the Kosovar people to stitch a new social fabric for their newly independent nation. Only then can a critical mass be reached, allowing for the self-perpetuation of democratic norms and values to be passed on to Kosovo's youngest and largest generation. [...]
[...] At both national and local levels, “many elected and appointed officials have been more than willing to accept suggestions” from NGOs for improving public sector performance. In fact, USAID found that NGOs ranked 6th out of 28 institutions and groups in terms of public perception of corruption in a 2003 survey, lending them even more popular credibility and therefore political clout. A final advantage afforded to Kosovo's civil society is the country's experience at self-management. During the 1990s as the Yugoslav/Serbian government repealed Kosovo's status as semi-autonomous, effectively dismissing all Albanians from participation in political life. [...]
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