Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
August 16, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Representative Tanin, for your update on UNMIK’s activities. I also want to recognize the participation Minister Dacic and Ambassador Citaku here today.

We congratulate Kosovo on holding successful, democratic elections in June, which international observers confirmed were free, fair, and peaceful, with only isolated irregularities related to voter participation. This is a clear demonstration of Kosovo’s democratic maturation. Of note, there was significant turnout in predominately Kosovo Serb municipalities, highlighting the progress made in integrating Kosovo Serbs into Kosovo’s democratic process.

Mr. President, the United States appreciates the UN’s efforts over the past two decades to help Kosovo build multiethnic, democratic institutions that uphold the rule of law and respect human rights. We also appreciate and support the European Union’s vital role as facilitator of the Brussels Dialogue. We call on leaders in both Belgrade and Pristina to continue taking the needed steps to revitalize these talks, to fully implement the Dialogue agreements, and to normalize relations.

Following the elections, Kosovo’s leaders must now cooperate and form a government without delay. The United States is ready to work with Kosovo’s newly elected representatives on our shared agenda, including advancing Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic integration by normalizing relations with Serbia via the EU-led Dialogue process; resolving Kosovo’s border with Montenegro to unlock visa-free travel to the EU; undertaking reforms to strengthen democratic governance and the rule of law and foster economic growth; and promoting a multiethnic, peaceful, and stable Kosovo. As we partner with the Government of Kosovo, civil society organizations, and relevant local institutions in this effort, we are pleased that Kosovo’s citizens in both the public and private sectors have demonstrated their capacity to work with partners in the international community to address remaining challenges.

Mr. President, UNMIK represents a UN peacekeeping success story, but the mission has long outlived its reason for existing, as we’ve said before in this chamber. Given Kosovo’s steady and consistent progress and maturity over the years, the United States reiterates our ongoing call for the Security Council to wind down and end the mission. We are long overdue in taking this step.

As a first step, the reporting period for UNMIK should be expanded to every six months or longer. We also recommend that the Secretary-General provide in his next report an assessment of where budget and staff reductions can be made, with a focus on reducing redundancy, since the Government of Kosovo has long ago demonstrated its clear competency and capacity to govern.

In line with our responsibility to ensure that all UN missions are responsive and relevant to the situation on the ground, this Council must take an honest look at Kosovo and recognize Kosovo’s significant progress and development. It is hard to justify continuing to support this mission with more urgent and pressing needs for UN peacekeeping in other parts of the world. This much is very clear – we have achieved our goals in Kosovo, and it’s time to wrap UNMIK up.

Lastly, we reaffirm our support for Kosovo’s efforts to develop into a prosperous and peaceful, multiethnic democracy and we continue to strongly support full international recognition of Kosovo and Kosovo’s membership in all relevant international organizations, including the UN and INTERPOL. We encourage UN Member States who have not yet done so to join the more than 110 UN members who have already recognized Kosovo as an independent state.

Thank you, Mr. President.