Fact Sheet
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
January 20, 2009


About the Status Settlement

In April 2007, UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari submitted to the UN Security Council his Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement (the "Ahtisaari Plan"). The Ahtisaari Plan includes a main text with15 articles that set forth its general principles, as well as 12 annexes that elaborate upon them. The Ahtisaari Plan is primarily focused on protecting the rights, identity and culture of Kosovo's non-Albanian communities, including establishing a framework for their active participation in public life. Special Envoy Ahtisaari also proposed that Kosovo become independent, subject to a period of international supervision.

On February 17, 2008, the Kosovo Assembly declared the independence of Kosovo in line with the Ahtisaari recommendations. In its declaration of independence, Kosovo made a binding commitment to implement fully the Ahtisaari Plan and welcomed a period of international supervision. Kosovo has already begun to approve new legislation as envisioned in the Ahtisaari Plan, develop a constitution that enshrines the Ahtisaari principles and take other measures to implement fully the Ahtisaari Plan's provisions.

For the full text of the original proposal, please refer to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Kosovo website: http://www.unosek.org/unosek/en/statusproposal.html

Key Provisions of the Settlement

  • Multi-ethnic democracy -- Kosovo’s multi-ethnic society will govern itself democratically and in full respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, while promoting peace and prosperity for all its inhabitants.
  • Constitution -- Kosovo will enshrine the above principles in a new constitution. The Ahtisaari Plan also defines other key elements that must be included, such as the protections and rights of members of all communities as described below.
  • International status -- Kosovo will have the right to negotiate and conclude international agreements and to seek membership in international organizations.
  • Minority rights and participation -- A central element of the Plan is protecting and promoting the rights of all people and communities in Kosovo, including the protection of their culture, language, education, and community symbols. The Plan also provides for the representation of Kosovo’s non-Albanians in key public institutions to safeguard their rights and to encourage their active participation in public life.
  • Decentralization -- The Ahtisaari Plan proposes wide-ranging local municipal powers. The Kosovo Serb community will have a high degree of responsibility over its own affairs, to include health care and higher education. Serb-majority communities will have extensive financial autonomy and will be able to accept transparent funding from Serbia and to take part in inter-municipal partnerships and cross-boundary cooperation with Serbian institutions. Six Serb-majority municipalities will be established or greatly expanded: Gracanica, Novo Brdo, Klokott, Ranilug, Partes, and Mitrovica-North.
  • Justice system -- Kosovo’s justice system will be ethnically integrated, independent, professional, and impartial. The Plan also mandates the creation of a new Constitutional Court.
  • Religious and cultural heritage – The Plan sets forth provisions to safeguard the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. Protective Zones will surround more than 40 key religious and cultural sites to preserve their dignity. The Serbian Orthodox Church will be granted property rights, will be exempt from taxes and customs duties, and will be free to maintain links with the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade.
  • Refugees – All refugees and internally displaced persons will have the right to return and reclaim their property and personal possessions in accordance with international law. The Settlement calls upon Kosovo and Serbia to cooperate fully with the International Commission of the Red Cross to resolve the fate of missing persons.
  • Economic development -- The Settlement prescribes procedures to settle property disputes and for continued privatization, both with substantial international involvement. The Plan also defines ways to determine Kosovo’s share of Serbia’s international debt.
  • Security -- The Plan encourages a high level of local involvement in developing a professional, multi-ethnic security sector, under democratic control and international oversight.

    • The Kosovo Police Force will have a unified chain of command throughout Kosovo, with police reflecting the ethnic composition of the municipalities in which they serve.
    • The Kosovo Security Force (KSF), a professional multi-ethnic force, will be established. It will have a maximum of 2,500 active members and 800 reserve members. The current Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) will be disbanded within one year of the establishment of the KSF.
  • International presence – Kosovo will have continued international supervision and support, with three main components:
    • An International Civilian Representative (ICR) – The ICR will supervise implementation of the Plan and have ultimate authority over its interpretation. This individual will serve in a dual role as ICR and European Union Special Representative. The ICR will have authority to annul decisions or laws and to sanction or remove public officials whose actions are determined by the ICR to be inconsistent with the letter or spirit of the Plan. The ICR will be the final authority in Kosovo regarding the civilian aspects of the Plan.
    • A European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) Mission will monitor, mentor and advise on all areas related to the rule of law. It will assist Kosovo in developing efficient, fair and representative police, judicial, customs, and penal institutions.
    • A NATO-led International Military Presence will provide a safe and secure environment throughout Kosovo, in conjunction with the ICR and in support of Kosovo’s institutions until those institutions are capable of assuming their full security responsibilities.

OSCE – The Plan also requests that the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe assists in monitoring implementation of the Plan.