Kosovo - The Partition Question: Divide and Quit

Does it help to divide territories where different communities find it hard to live together? Or is this just transferring problems to the international level? As the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and NATO struggle to keep the peace following the communal killings in the divided city of Mitrovica in March, would dividing Kosovo stabilise the Balkans? The answer depends on whether partition is regarded as a good or bad thing.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Anita Inder Singh

Controversies about partition are endless. Advocates say that separation can bring irreconcilable warring parties to the negotiating table, end conflict and save lives. Giving antagonistic communities the freedom not to cohabit might prevent violence. Impartial peace brokers may offer justice to both sides. The division of a country along its ethno-territorial lines makes the new political entities ethnically homogeneous through internationally organised population transfers. Partition is therefore a way of containing conflict.

The realities of division have been very different, however. It has been demanded where at least two ethnic groups engage in armed conflict for possession of a particular territory. Those in favour of partition have usually tried to align territorial and ethnic borders though war, mass expulsions and ethnic massacres. In the twentieth century, Czechoslovakia’s velvet divorce in 1992 was the exception.

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