On 17 February, 2008, Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia, following six years of negotiations that finally produced the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, also known as the CSP or Ahtisaari Plan. Following the declaration of independence, twenty-five states that recognized Kosovo as an independent state formed the International Steering Group (ISG) for Kosovo and appointed an International Civilian Representative (ICR) to head the International Civilian Office (ICO).
The ICO’s Lessons Learned Report, “State Building and Exit”, reviews the period between February 2008 and the end of supervised independence on 10 September 2012. It highlights the core focus of the ICO in helping Kosovo implement the Ahtisaari Plan, in important tasks such as the demarcation of the Kosovo-Macedonia border, the decentralization initiative, municipal elections and protection of religious and cultural heritage to name a few.
The book debates the pros and cons of an ICO-style intervention for future deployments in global hotspots in this age of financial austerity. We look at the ICO in the context of other organizations such as the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Hercegovina and long-term missions such as those deployed by the UN. The US-EU relationship in similar Euro-Atlantic endeavors is also examined. We conduct an honest assessment of the successes and failures of the ICO and its specific role during a transitional phase for Kosovo. We remain particularly critical of the paucity of resources in a time and task bound mission and suggest ways that these can be maximally used for future presences.
The book is a collaborative effort of a team of ICO staff members and was edited by former ICO Communications Director Christian Palme. The foreword is by former International Civilian Representative Pieter Feith.