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Kosovo: Ending Wars and Keeping Peace Term Paper

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Updated: Aug 17th, 2021

Introduction

Very recently, Kosovo got independence last month in February, after a civil war that killed thousands and thousands of people about ten years back, and then suffered the absolute gloomy state of oblivion under the United Nations reign. Their effort to be acclaimed as a country introduced under Europe was the latest chapter in the splitting off of the former Yugoslavia, after 17 years since the process of its formal closing had begun.

The paper starts with describing the recent events that took place in Kosovo after independence, the celebrations as well as little events of violence, which were done by the opposition parties, and also reactions from various countries across the world for the recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation.

Then a general analysis of civil wars is presented; what is a civil war and what are its various aspects. It covers different civil wars that have taken place so far in the history of this world. Certain specific reasons for civil war from different researches done by sociologists have also been integrated thereafter.

Then begins the core of the paper, which takes back to the historical background of the war in Kosovo, from the disintegration of Yugoslavia to the situations in Serbia and Kosovo during the civil war and the aftermath, and also Kosovo’s condition under the rule of the United Nations along with the role of NATO.

The last part of the paper shows the analysis of Kosovo’s independence, as being an exceptional case in history, and therefore deserving an exceptional solution for such independence, which has indeed kept reasonable peace within the region so far. It is expected to stay likewise for times to come.

Kosovo – right after Independence

After a long history of civil war and violence, finally, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, the 17th of February, 2008. The independence has indeed brought about both jubilations and protests.

The celebrations included hundreds and thousands of ethnic Albanians pouring out across from the streets, cheering and celebrating what they were looking forward to, after such a stretched struggle involving bloodshed in the course for national self-determination. Ethnic Albanians arrived at Pristina at the weekend from faraway places, even from the United States. Dancing frantically in wild excitement, they did not worry about facing the onslaught of bitter cold temperatures nor heavy snow. ‘Beating drums, waving Albanian flags, and throwing firecrackers, they chanted: “Independence! Independence! We are free at last!” ’ (Bilefsky, n.p.)

They ensconced a 100-foot-long birthday cake on the main boulevard in Pristina. Celebrations were held in Times Square with hundreds of people waving Albanian flags. Celebrators drove their cars in circles around the celebration area, passing the crowds and steering chants.

The government of Serbia and the Serbian communities in northern Kosovo were filled with anguish, fury, and incredulity. A large number of angry Serbs came together at the United States Embassy in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and attempted to fling stones and smashed windows. At another place in Kosovo, a grenade was cast at a building owned by the United Nations. (Bilefsky, n.p.)

The reaction worldwide is of two minds. A showdown between the West and the Serbian government and its allies comes to a climax, where the West argues that Serbia’s ruthless and cruel act of forcing Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority into submission caused it to lose the right to reign over the territory. They are opposed by the Serbian government and its allies who view Kosovo’s independence as a reckless violation of international law that will encourage other likely secession territories to form pressure groups within and carry out movements against their respective governments. They also implied sharply that the conflict between the principles of autonomy and independence was far from being settled.

Countries like Britain, France, and Germany were among the first ones to acknowledge the newly formed nation, the United States and other European Union partner states were also likely to acknowledge Kosovo as an independent country, while at the same time there were other countries which refused to recognize Kosovo, swallowing apprehensions for separatist movements amid their borders. Russia called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to declare that the pronouncement of Kosovo as an independent nation is ‘null and void’. However, the meeting did not generate any outcome.

Civil wars in general

A civil war is fought for gaining control over political power within parties of the same culture, society, or nationality. Civil war, as defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary is “a war between opposing groups of the same country”. The organized groups that are involved in fighting civil wars have their sights on changing government policies or taking over the power over a certain region by breaking out a violent conflict.

NATO, in its Glossary of Terms and Definitions, even though does not instantly define civil war, but still provides a reference through its manual which states that ‘civil disturbance’ is expressed as “group acts of violence and disorder prejudicial to public law and order”.

Throughout history, civil wars have been fought over religious conflicts, over matters of ideology, or because of nationalism. Out of these, religion is said to be a reason which is relevant in a very loose and light way, as it was unusual for people to feel weighed down by it. There have been very occasional violent acts that could be traced back to religious issues. Among these, several rebellions have been witnessed with the rise of Islam.

Most of the civil conflicts through Islamic history originated from the Sunni-Shiite divide. Similarly, the Protestant Reformation was also a civil war of religion that happened in Europe. Under the same religious ring, civil wars have been fought between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism in France, Netherlands, and Germany. The civil war that produced the most bloodshed took place in China, known as the Taiping Rebellion, which was indeed an attempt at religious revolution.

The issue regarding a system of social beliefs, specifically that of ideology has also been a reason behind certain civil wars and has been viewed as a revolution. A classic example is that of the French Revolution which is also claimed to be the first revolution. More or less it is the members of the middle class, who are educated but quite dissatisfied, and therefore take the lead in bringing about a revolution by assembling and rallying the large bulk of the population to their cause. While ideology is also viewed as simply using religion as a replacement as a rationalization and motivation for violence that is affected by socioeconomic factors. To bring about successful revolutions, and sometimes even intensify it to a civil war, nearly always, the use of armed forces is essential. The Chinese Civil War is an example of this.

Separatist violence has been one of the most widespread causes of civil war. Just like in the case of religion and ideology, nationalism has also been seen as an explanation for the war to take place instead of being a core cause of conflict. All contemporary states endeavor towards sustaining a monopoly on internal military force. For separatist civil wars to explode, a modern separatist conflict usually assumes the structure of asymmetrical warfare with separatists not heavily armed and usually disorganized.

The advantage that they carry is the support and assistance from the local population, which makes it hard to beat such groups. Many liberation groups in colonies have used this course, in addition to forces for example in Sri Lanka and Eritrea. Different economies in the same country that bring about regional differences are also responsible, as happened in the American Civil War. The breaking, done by the national army, along ethnic, religious, or national boundaries, in the same way as it happened in Yugoslavia, also provides grounds for the eruption of separatist civil wars.

Reasons for civil war

Not all nations, which have minority factions, differences in religious beliefs and practices, and divisions under ideological principles, throw themselves into war. Many logics have been brought to light through long researches done by Sociologists, which tell what sparks civil wars. In this very contemporary world, those nations which are poor, dictatorial, and regionally divided undergo civil war. In the American Civil War, however, the United States was an exception for not being poor.

Some paradigms to justify the happening of civil wars emphasized the significance of change and transition. Consistent with one such approach towards reasoning, the increasing economic dominance of the North as compared with the South was the reason behind the American Civil War; the increasing strengths and authority of the middle class and merchants to the detriment of the upper crust of aristocracy was responsible for the English Civil War; the disturbance of the fragile demographic balance by the intensification in the Shiite population was to blame behind the Lebanese Civil War; and the deepened long-term social, economic and demographic disparities which indeed provided a fertile ground for hatred and worsening of rivalry, along with all the factors concerning the bloc and sub-bloc arguments over geo-politics policies were the reason behind the Yugoslavian Civil War, in fact specifically, the Kosovo Civil War.

Furthermore, struggle for natural and other resources and wealth as well as financial stability, and making this entire struggle in an attempt to beat others within a society are all the common causes for civil wars. Economic gain, although, has hardly been the reason accepted by certain participants. The factors relating to economic and class struggles are most highlighted by historians, who argue that civil wars occur due to the imperialist rulers who strive against each other to attain greater power. Historians say that these rulers use nationalism and religion as important tools to lead people in such false beliefs that they join them. Inauthentic and bogus reasons may also cause violence in civil wars.

The persistence of civil wars is seen to be quite a major issue, besides studying and debating just over its causes. Many civil wars have proven to be quite difficult to get comprehended, loitering and dragging for years. One influential factor that promotes violence is that at times civil wars turn into proxy wars for external powers, the international allies that fund their biased supporters, and thus encourage unrest.

If civil wars are studied under the light of democracy, it is anticipated to be noticed that those states which are the most democratic have lesser civil wars and the most intermediate form of governments. The prospect for a civil war is also amplified by political variations, irrespective of whether it is towards greater democracy or greater monocracy. Irrespective of the time meanwhile the political alteration, the factor most disposed to civil war is that of intermediate regimes. Therefore, in contrast to both intermediate regimes and monocracies, democracy is the most likely completion in the course of democratization (Hironaka, pp. 3)

Historical Background of Kosovo Civil War

Under the six republics of Yugoslavia, which were integrated until 1991, namely Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia – Kosovo, which, under the 1947 constitution of Yugoslavia, was specified as a two autonomous province within Serbia, was one of the poorest provinces indeed. (Ruga, Mertus, n.p.) Its status of being autonomous was however changed by 1990. Frequent events of violence and civil conflict had resulted in the state’s condition in a complete wreck. Due to the deteriorating political scenario of the country and the rolling civil conflict, the GDP trimmed down to almost 50%.

According to a few statistics available, Muslims are said to cover 93% of Kosovo’s population, out of which about 88% are said to be Albanian Muslims (out of the 90% Albanian population). The rest are minorities. During the time of war, much of the local population had to depart from Kosovo. Those who did not leave themselves were forced out and shifted to neighboring countries. Thousands of Serbs, which represented Kosovo’s minority, also left the country. Many of these shifted people returned at the time when United Nations came to power in Kosovo.

There are two types of conflict: internal conflict and external conflict. An internal conflict typically opens out and becomes an external conflict. The same was the case in Kosovo which got initiated as an internal conflict. This is traced to the fact that for quite a long time Serbs were aggressive and impertinent towards Albanians. The Albanians would feel maltreated and insulted, and as a result, an internal ethnic conflict fired up. This was during the twentieth century that this conflict started erupting into mass killing and brutal massacre of both Serbs and Albanians. It was after the Second World War when Kosovo was announced as a part of Serbia, that Albanians started to face severe torments and cruel killings. Although Tito worked a lot in favor of the Albanians but still the tough and bitter treatment that they had to experience was way too much.

It was after 1960, that the new generation started giving a lot of attention towards creating a ‘Kosovo Republic’. Some demonstrations came to pass, the majority of which were under the charge of the government. The state of Albanians was becoming quite better to some extent. The year 1974 was the one when Kosovo was granted autonomy while being a part of Serbia. Even though it wasn’t a republic with its nation, it still had a government of its own. (Stein, n.p.) After a few years, the youth started another demonstration, now for the demand of an identity, a republic status. The Albanians especially, who did not want to be second-rate or mediocre citizens of any country, proposed Kosovo join with Albania to form another state.

Mere suppressions and the conditions carrying not much violence slowly and gradually turned into an armed conflict, as to stop such demonstrations from progressing, the power from the police and military forces was used. They were asked to utilize whatever possible weapons they could, against people running these demonstrations. Even, military forces and weapons had started getting assembled from the entire Yugoslavian territory to deal with this regard. Thousands and thousands were slain. A lot more were seized.

The country’s economy was slumping down sharply, as the unemployment rate kept on increasing. The Albanians believed the fact that because they did not have any power at all over their country that is why the country’s economy was getting worse. They considered the circumstance that if they acquired a republic status, only then they could enjoy economic affluence. With time, Albanians started growing in the majority, while Serbs shrinking in minority, due to the greater number of average children for Albanians, and Serb’s migration to other countries. Serbs felt and hence asserted that they were treated unfairly due to prejudice in almost every occupation or social class. Slobodan Milosevic, who was a Serb leader and an extreme Serbian, came to Kosovo in 1987, and conducted an address, and asserted Serbs rights. Quite a famous party leader, Milosevic had become a symbol of inspiration for the Serbs.

Now the conditions of the majority of Albanians versus the minority of Serbs were turning all opposite. Albanians were now degraded and suppressed and a lot of discrimination was done. Albanian employees, for example, teachers were fired, schools and universities were closed, the mass media and almost every Albanian label thing was rejected and humiliated. Serbs, on the other hand, were given all the preferences and privileges. They were given employments, especially to those who were coming back to Kosovo, and also all those facilities which the Albanians were deprived of. Ethnic cleansing had risen in Kosovo.

Poisoning of school children as well as general killings of Albanian public was going on. It was after Croatia declared independence in 19991, that Kosovo also diverted its consideration from being an autonomous state to getting independence. The elections of 1992 in Kosovo gave rise to several steps towards the betterment of Albanians. Teachers and other employers were hired. Albanians who were finding it hard to get work could start their businesses.

The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which was a resistance group had practically no foundation in Kosovo and was provided with the looted goods that were robbed from the interior ministry storehouses. Everywhere, Albanians were blamed for the security system of Kosovo going down the dumps and for other organized crimes. Police officers were performing acts of brutality by looting, harassing, and slaying people. Prisoners, along with the normal harassing and beating, were also made to suffer from electric shocks. (Humanitarian Law Center, pp. 61)

The prisoners would confess anything after such a severe agony and would thus be called criminals. They wouldn’t even be allowed detailed talks and discussions with lawyers if they could get any. Everything was done under a thorough observation and important information was generally concealed. (Guy, pp.4) These were all the brutal events from the Serbs towards the Albanians that sparked this conflict and turned it into a war. An ethnic conflict, a war full of aggression indeed, constituted a chapter totally against the war rules, as well as the humanitarian laws.

The civil war in Kosovo had ultimately come to an end after so many years. It had indeed gone on for ages, for generations, with both the Serbs and Albanians asserting that it was their native country and they were the real and true descendants of that land. (Judah, n.p.)

Kosovo, which had its governance until 1989, lost its autonomy after Milosevic took over, and brought Kosovo under the direct rule of Belgrade, which is the capital of Serbia. This change that Albanians truly disliked gave rise to an open conflict. The Serbian military and Albanians had fallen into a severe conflict. Again the same situation was there, thousands of people dying while others were being expelled from the country. Milosevic, who had ignited the war by letting the military take full control, backed off from the whole situation. The conflict slowly spread within and then towards its boundaries and finally turned into an international conflict.

It was then that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) came forward and announced the requirement of a peaceful solution for the betterment of Kosovo and Serbia, and other nearby nations. When Milosevic did not remove his forces at any cost, NATO decided to airstrike with the purpose to enforce a peaceful resolution. (Clines, pp. A 1)

The United Nations, on the other hand, censured the use of the military by both parties. Under the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) of 1998, strictly condemned both the Yugoslavian forces and the Kosovo Albanians to cut their excessive use of these forces. Specific scope and extent were defined for the usage of such forces. Many missions followed negotiations. Peace talks continued to take place, while peace agreements were getting signed. Frequent airstrikes were still used by NATO, whenever Serbs and Albanians would be seen indulging in conflicts time and again.

A significant agreement was the UNSCR 1244 that was passed in June as Yugoslavia had accepted to remove its forces from Kosovo. The United Nations then deployed International security to enhance peace in the region. Kosovo was now under its rule. The United Nations did a lot to bring peace and stability to the country. With the help of NATO and the European Union, it established strategies and implemented them wisely.

After a long series of brutal events and killings and bombings, finally, Kosovo got its independence on the 17th of February, 2008 under unanimous approval from the parliament. Even the protests from the Serbs, which resulted from this, were not very violent and did not include any mass killings.

Analysis

Independence in other countries around the world has not always resulted in peace. Sometimes it ended in partition; other times either in the capitulation of rebel forces or in extreme cases, an overthrow. However, this has not been the case with Kosovo, as much peace has been maintained. This is majorly due to the outstanding support from the United Nations and backing for assistance by the superpower state, and also for the fact that Kosovo has been considered as an exceptional case. It has been proposed that neither events from history nor for future, regarding countries having nearly the same condition of separatist movements and other such conflicts, be compared with those of Kosovo, as it is called to be a unique, indeed an exceptional case.

The international communities that have recognized Kosovo as independent state acclaim that the way Kosovo’s case has been solved is because it is an exceptional case and thus other separatist movements of the current time cannot be resolved in this way. The reasons behind Kosovo’s being a unique case contribute to the ethnic discrimination of Albanians, the brutal harassment they had to go through and all the torture they had to suffer at the time of Milosevic’s regime, the provisional independence under UN reign, and very importantly the approval of the 1244 resolution of the UNSCR. (Stavileci, Reka, Bajrami, n.p.)

From the paper, it has been seen how much discrimination Albanians had to face. Just because of their ethnicity, they were brutally killed. The UN resolution of 1244 was thus evolved and thus adapted. In addition to this factor serving as a point in Kosovo’s uniqueness, it may be noticed that the governance, in the end, in fact nowhere in the whole course, was thought to be granted to the Serbians, even though they had been living in Kosovo for ages.

This was major because Serbs targeted Albanians to a serious episode of discrimination and harassment. Kosovo’s case has also been incomparable to other nations holding separatist movements because, from history, it was the only state that did not attain independence after the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. It should be ascertained from these factors that Kosovo holds a unique position in front of other nations of the world, and after suffering that much it did have the right to acquire its identity. Even the constitutional privileges were accomplished through unconstitutional means. (Grgic, n.p.) Another very important factor is Kosovo’s temporary foreign administration, i.e. it was under the United Nations rule from the year 1999 onwards.

Kosovo did deserve such a fate and only and only this independence can give it the space to prosper as a separate nation. This way the Kosovo citizens might be able to remove the past brutalities and they may live in peace.

References

Bilefsky, Dan (2008), Kosovo Declares Its Independence From Serbia, They New York Times, World News.

Clines, Francis X (1999), NATO Hunting for Serb Forces; U.S. Reports Signs of ‘Genocide’, The New York Times, pp. A1.

Grgic, Borut (2006) The peculiar case of Kosovo, Moscow Times. Web.

Guy, Dinore (1997) “Uneasy Peace in Kosovo May be Coming to an End”, Financial Times, Nov. 4, pp. 4.

Hironaka, Anna (2005) Never Ending Wars: The International Community, Weak States, and the Perpetuation of Civil War, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass., pp. 3.

Humanitarian Law Center (1997), Human Rights: 1991-1995, pp. 61.

Judah, Tim (1999), ; BBC News. Web.

Ruga, Glenn; Mertus, Julie (1999) History of the war in Kosovo, Center for Balkan Development. Web.

Stavileci, Esat; Reka, Blerim; Bajrami, Arsim (1996), Kosovo, Political, International law and Constitutional arguments, Prishtina.

Stein, S.D. (1999). Background/ Overview to Kosovo genocide and conflict. Web.

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