The United States welcomes the considerable progress in Kosovo since it declared independence on February 17, 2008, and continues to support the development of a stable, European-oriented, multi-ethnic democracy. We are committed to working with the Government of Kosovo and our European and international partners through the following organizations on continued growth and development to the benefit of all of Kosovo's citizens.
International Steering Group (ISG)
Following Kosovo's declaration of independence, upon the request of Kosovo's leaders, a group of states formed the International Steering Group (ISG) on February 28, 2008. The ISG was comprised of 25 states that recognized Kosovo's independence. The mission of the ISG was to oversee the International Civilian Office’s (ICO) mandate of full implementation of the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari of March 26, 2007. ISG member states contributed personnel to staff the International Civilian Office (ICO). On September 10, 2012, the International Steering Group formally ended its supervision of the country, rendering Kosovo responsible for its own governance.
International Civilian Office (ICO)
The International Civilian Office (ICO) supervised the Government of Kosovo's implementation of the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal, commonly known as the Ahtisaari Plan. From 2008 to 2012, the ICO was led by the International Civilian Representative (ICR), Pieter Feith, who also served as the European Union Special Representative (EUSR). Mr. Feith was appointed by the International Steering Group. The International Civilian Office concluded its work in Kosovo in September 2012.
NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR)
UN Security Council Resolution 1244 mandated that an international security presence be deployed in Kosovo to deter renewed hostilities, maintain and where necessary enforce a ceasefire, and provide for a safe and secure environment. This presence was provided by the "Kosovo Force" (KFOR) composed of more than 30 national military contingents from NATO Allies and partner countries under the command of NATO. Today, KFOR continues to provide a safe and secure environment and supports the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) and its Ministry. In 2009, NATO took the decision to begin downsizing KFOR, based on a conditions-based assessment of an improved security and political situation in Kosovo. KFOR completed the first phase of downsizing in early 2010, with the second phase of downsizing completed in early 2011. Additional downsizing will continue according to NATO's assessment of political and security conditions on the ground. As of November 2015, there are approximately 4,700 soldiers in KFOR, including approximately 690 U.S. troops.
EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX)
The European Union's Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) formally deployed throughout Kosovo on December 9, 2008, marking the first time the United States participated in an EU Common Security and Defense Policy mission. The mission works with the Government of Kosovo to monitor, mentor, and advise Kosovo police, justice, and customs officials, according to the Ahtisaari Plan. EULEX reached full operational capability in April 2009. EULEX is led by Gabriele Meucci and currently employs approximately 1,500 international and local staff.
OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK)
As of March 2014, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Kosovo (OMiK) had approximately 165 international staff and 435 local staff. Since October 2012, French diplomat Jean-Claude Schlumberger has led the OMiK. OMiK's mandate focuses on the promotion of human rights and good governance and is reviewed on a monthly basis as a result of a motion by Russian and Serbian representatives to the OSCE in January 2008.
UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMiK)
The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMiK) administered Kosovo from 1999 until June 15, 2008, when Kosovo's constitution came into force. During that nine-year period, UNMiK worked to create "substantial autonomy and self-governance" in Kosovo, gradually transferring competencies to the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG). In June 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Italian diplomat Lamberto Zannier to be the new SRSG. In December 2009, Zannier transferred rule of law authorities to the European Union's rule of law mission (EULEX) and ordered a significant downsizing and reconfiguration of UNMIK in line with Secretary-General Ban's report to the Security Council of significantly "changed realities on the ground" in Kosovo. The UN will continue to retain some limited, residual responsibilities, including dialogue with Belgrade, monitoring and reporting, and representing Kosovo in some organizations where it has not yet been recognized. Zannier completed his tenure as SRSG in June 2011. Dr. Farid Zarif, former Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, succeeded Zannier, serving as SRSG from October 2011 to August 2015. Currently, Dr. Zahir Tanin, who also previously represented Afghanistan at the UN, serves as SRSG.