Mixed signals the impact of international administration on Kosovo's independence
Trachier, James M.
Shore, Zachary S.
Dombroski, Kenneth R.
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Under provisions of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1244, elements of the UN, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the European Union (EU) became the de facto government of Kosovo following NATO's 1999 air campaign against Serbian forces suspected of committing atrocities against the province's ethnic Albanian population. On February 17, 2008, after just under a decade of international administration, Kosovo declared its independence and was recognized by the United States and other Western powers in the following days. Given the emphasis placed on respecting Yugoslavia's sovereignty and preserving its territorial integrity in numerous official texts, including Resolution 1244, why is Kosovo now recognized as an independent state by much of the world? This examines historical, institutional, and systemic explanations for Kosovo's independence. It concludes that while all three explanations have some merit, only the systemic explanation has sufficient explanatory power to stand on its own. This explanation holds that, by pursuing a "Standards before Status" approach, the international administration of Kosovo exacerbated the existing polarization between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians by failing to provide incentives for concessions. Contrary to stated goals, this approach contributed to the creation of a de facto independent Kosovo state.
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