Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Ms Jennifer Wilson

  1.  At the close of the bombing campaign in 1999, the KLA was armed, factionalized, and expectant of indepenence. These aspirations were frustrated by UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which prohibited their army and gave no guarantee of future independence. The threat of resumption of military action by KLA guerrila units was real. The KLA demanded a role within Kosovo society and KFOR and UNMIK were provided only with the restrictions established by the international community.

  2.  Every option was considered to ensure demilitarisation occured. Yet, the world has just watched the Yugoslavian Army fail at every attempt at coercion, using methods to which KFOR would never resort. Simply disarming the KLA was not possible. After some negotiation, the KLA offered voluntary demilitarisation through transformation. It was indisputably in KFOR's interests to supervise a voluntary process. To this end, NATO accepted a framework within which members of the KLA were to give up their arms and military organisation in order to take up civilian positions. Their options would include placement in the private sector or competing for places in the Kosovo Police Service. The central focus, however, was to be a civilian emergency body into which the core of the KLA could be absorbed.

  3.  Clearly, while the KPC can make a real contribution towards reconstruction, humanitarian, and other civilian objectives, the overriding aim was and remains strategic: to bring the former fighters into an organisation through which KFOR could exert control, thus setting it aside as a serious threat to KFOR's mission. This objective has been amply fulfilled. Although no undefeated "army of liberation" had ever before been voluntarily disarmed and civilianised, the KLA entered into a highly structured arrangement, took off its uniforms, and began to turn in its weapons. The core of the KLA is identified, regulted, and engaged in the transformation process. They are not angels, but the most serious threat to KFOR has been successfully contained and reduced. We have much more information about how and with whom they spend their time and the threat of returning large scale mountain style fighting of the past is remote. We have a strong commitment from and the support of the KPC leader, Agim Ceku. We passed the FRY and Kosovar elections with no incidents involving KPC and Mitrovica remains quiet. Despite continuing instability in the region involving FRY, the KLA leadership has not been the source of violence, as its key fighters are in the KPC under KFOR's supervision. KFOR now confronts the UCPMB, a much smaller and localised militaristic group. It is a warning, though. If the KLA transformation process fails, the Presevo Valley struggle may become the rallying point for Kosovar politicians and sympathetic former fighters.

  4.  The KPC cannot exist in a holding pattern. The promise to transform the former KLA into an emergency services organisation must be realised. The KPC are eager to take on this mission. Increasingly, they are intergrating into the civil structures and we have already seen their commitment to responding to emergencies. The military culture of the KPC is shallow. Few of its members are career soldiers. Most were under arms for only a few weeks or months. Most are receptive to good training and leadership. Strategic objectives notwithstanding, every opportunity exists for turning these young men from idle former fighters into competent civil specialists.

  5.  Throughout year 2000, the KPC remained at home, undertaking reconstruction tasks, engaged in training, putting out brush fires, and combating chemical spills in Mitrovica. By June of 2001 there will be 20 operable chemical and forest fire fighting teams, all of which are badly needed in the territory. The KPC School of Civil Protection opened in fall 2000, enabling KPC to conduct critical training. Yet, the support and technical expertise provided largely by select nations needs to be expanded to enable the KPC to develop key skills to manage site emergencies and cope with complex chemical accidents and clean up. The KPC requires restructuring in view of its more advanced technical role. The training, managerial, and technical requirements are growing. With support, KPC can fulfil a key need and ensure that the transformation is substantive and permanent. To this end, contributions in the form of training, infrastructure, equipment, and technical expertise are urgently needed in Year 2001.

  6.  The KPC is not the civilian emergency services organisation that UNMIK would have created nor is it staffed with the personnel the UN would have recruited. For this reason, since its inception, the financial burden of the KPC has been born by voluntary contributions from the programme's beneficiaries—the troop contributing nations. And it is the fraility of this voluntary funding arrangement, and the continuing funding shortfalls, which undermine the programme's effectiveness and signal a lack of international support for transformation.

  7.  From January 2001, the KPC will be funded from the Kosovo Consolidated Budget (KCB). This does not eliminate the need for donor support. The programme is intended for 3,000 full time members, but due to KFOR's security concerns, the 2,000 reservists were activated and maintained in Year 2000. This is a strategic cost, and it cannot be born by the KCB general fund. When the KPC enters the KCB, it will do so without the 2,000 reservists and with substancial reductions in its infrastructure, equipment, and budgetary lines. If there is a strategic reason to sustain the reservist aspect of the programme, it must be provided for by the beneficiaries, the troop contributing nations.

  8.  The race to reintegrate Serbia into Europe creates uncertainty and bitterness among the Kosovar Albanian population. The activities in Eastern Kosovo are the best indicators of this frustration. To date, the KPC leadership has not been involved in these activities. Its leader, Agim Ceku, has expelled memebers from the organisation for suspected involvement in militaristic activities in Eastern Kosovo. For now, we have the continued commitment of the leadership and the bulk of its membership not to engage in these behaviours. Yet, the sudden release of 2,000 members of the KPC from full time employment to unemployment during a period of profound uncertainty about Kosovo's future, can only exascerbate current frustrations.

  9.  Transformation is a process, not a ceremony. Slow funding from the international community substantially delayed the beginning of that process. Only in January 2000, were senior leaders appointed; rank and file were inducted only in March. Allegations about the behaviour of "KPC members" ignored the fact that the KPC did not exist for more than six months after formal demilitarisation in September 1999. The framework necessary to hold KPC members—and their leaders—accountable for their actions has existed for one year, but it has been riddled with insecurity over funding support. Under KFOR supervision, the transformation of this still-uneven cohort has been supported by vigorous enforcement: discipline has already been applied, including suspension or expulsion from KPC, as well as criminal prosecution, where warranted. Criminal activities are of key concern and the KPC provides the international community with a means to address the criminal elements of the KLA through a structured and organised programme, reinforcing a chain of command with strong leadership. Criminal actors can be removed and prosecuted with KLA support and without creating stand offs between the community and KFOR.

  10.  What has been achieved to date is entirely reversible. Failure to sustain support for transformation— and with it, KFOR's framework for supervision—would rapidly erode the international community's influence over the former fighters, risking failure of demilitarisation. Continued transformation depends on extensive, relevant training and meaningful employment. Neither is expensive—a mere fraction of the cost of the alternative.

  11.  In closing, the demilitarisation programme in Kosovo has partially met its strategic aim. The bulk of KLA has left the battlefield and begun transformation. But, we are not there yet. The transformation process is in its early stages and one year on the KPC remains the key vehicle for sustainable transformation. KPC must become a useful and functioning part of the government if they are to be sustained and controlled. The international community must support KFOR to ensure that there is an alternate future for the ex-KLA members in the form of a civillian emergency response programme. They are making real progress, but your support remains essential.

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