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 is comprised of 25 states that have recognized Kosovo's independence. The mission of the ISG is 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 contribute personnel to staff the International Civilian Office (ICO).
International Civilian Office (ICO)
The International Civilian Office (ICO) supervises the Government of Kosovo's implementation of the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal, commonly known as the Ahtisaari Plan. The ICO is led by the International Civilian Representative (ICR), Pieter Feith, who also serves as the European Union Special Representative (EUSR). Mr. Feith was appointed by the International Steering Group. There are approximately 200 international staff members at the ICO, including seven U.S. government-staffed positions.
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 standing up of 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 additional downsizing to continue according to NATO’s assessment of political and security conditions on the ground. As of July 2010, there are approximately 10,000 soldiers in KFOR, including approximately 1,300 U.S. National Guard 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 with approximately 1,900 international staff and 1,100 local employees.
OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK)
As of July 2010, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Kosovo (OMiK) has approximately 200 international staff and 500 local staff. OMiK's mandate focuses on the promotion of human rights and good governance and is reviewed on 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.