Kosovo: Elections Are What We Do

Two and a half years ago bombs were raining down on what remained of Yugoslavia. Now the people of Kosovo, whose treatment triggered the attack, are invited to vote. But the situation there carries worrying lessons about how to build peace after conflict.

The World Today Published 1 November 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 6 minute READ

Simon Chesterman

Directs the Transitional Administration project, International Peace Academy

Two presidents, a presidency, a prime minister and an assembly, but not a country? As Kosovo’s majority Albanian population prepares for the election of ‘provisional institutions of self- government’ on November 17 – and Serbia cozies up to the international community – the paper-thin compromise that saw the United Nations follow NATO into Kosovo is likely to become a permanent substitute for a solution.

In one of his final speeches as head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Bernard Kouchner likened the job to being in Alice’s Wonderland. It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place, he observed – if you want to get somewhere else, you have to run at least twice as fast.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.