Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on UNMIK

Christopher Klein
Minister Counselor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
February 27, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Representative Tanin, for the update on UNMIK’s activities. We appreciate the UN’s efforts over the years to help Kosovo build multiethnic, democratic institutions that uphold the rule of law and respect human rights. We are pleased that these efforts have largely been accomplished.

However, given these accomplishments, and given the requests from several Council members during our last briefing in November for the UN to seriously reconsider UNMIK’s resources, we were surprised that the Secretary-General’s report noted the “importance of ensuring that UNMIK is appropriately resourced to address current and emerging challenges.” We believe UNMIK is over-resourced and overstaffed in comparison with its limited responsibilities. Last year, UNMIK had high levels of underspent funds in its budget. The mission should return such resources to UN Headquarters rather than create unnecessary projects. And yet UNMIK, a mission that should be drawing down, is putting permanent solar panels on a building that it is renting.

Kosovo is a success story, and UNMIK deserves a lot of credit. But it would be unfortunate for UNMIK to be remembered not for its brave work in supporting the establishment of a new country, but for lingering past its relevance. It is time for the Secretariat to downsize UNMIK’s structure, size, and tasks in line with realities on the ground. The situation in Kosovo is drastically different from 1999 when the Security Council created the mission, as well as from 2008, when the Secretariat restructured it. We are aware of the frictions and provocations that occurred over the last few months, but we also note that they were resolved calmly, collaboratively, and without violence.

Recent frictions highlight the importance of Kosovo’s and Serbia’s efforts to pursue normalization of relations through the EU-facilitated Brussels Dialogue. We appreciate EU High Representative Mogherini’s recent convening of both Kosovo’s and Serbia’s leaders at a high-level meeting. We continue to support the EU’s vital role as a facilitator of the Dialogue. Leaders in both Belgrade and Pristina must continue taking the needed steps and making the difficult but necessary decisions in order to progress in these talks. We call on both Belgrade and Pristina to fully implement Dialogue agreements without further delay, and to work more actively toward normalization of relations.

The United States reaffirms its support for Kosovo as it develops as a prosperous and peaceful multiethnic democracy. A democratic, stable, and independent Kosovo is a force for regional stability. We continue to strongly support full international recognition of Kosovo and Kosovo’s membership in all relevant international organizations, including the UN. We encourage UN Member States who have not yet done so to join the over 100 UN members who have already recognized Kosovo as an independent state.

The United States is pleased to see progress on establishing the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, and we encourage Kosovo to continue its commitment to this body. Kosovo needs to make greater progress to strengthen the independence of its judiciary and improve the rule of law to combat corruption, attract foreign investment, and accelerate Kosovo’s overall development.

Finally, Mr. President, we again strongly urge the Council to adjust the reporting and briefing period for UNMIK from three months to six months. This longer reporting period will reduce the burden on the Secretariat and the Council, both of which have far more pressing business at hand.

Thank you.