Submission to the UN Committee for Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, 41th session

This report highlights the areas in which UNMIK fall short of its obligations under the ICESCR and the main concerns regarding the realisation of ICESCR rights, in particular in relation to:

Art. 2 (Treaty entrenchment and non-discrimination) 

  • a) Kosovo’s Anti-Discrimination Law – according to human rights scholars and experts one of the most advanced in Europe – remains a typical example of “law on paper”, law which is not enforced. This is often because of the lack of awareness of its existence among the judiciary and inhabitants of Kosovo.
  • b) The Administrative Instructions that enabled the implementation of the ADL, are written in a confusing manner and its provisions are often devoid of any concrete meaning because of terminological mistakes.
  • c) The Serbian version of the Administrative Instructions is far below any legal standard and contains vast number of typing and grammatical errors that undermine the quality of those bylaws, their accessibility and foreseeability.
  • d) The Law on the Use of Language, which states that minorities have the right to receive all information, documents and other services in their language, is de facto not implemented because of insufficient human and financial resources as well as due to the lack of political will. 

Art. 6 (Right to work) 

  • a) IDPs/returnees and minorities in Kosovo are particularly vulnerable groups in relation to job market. Non-Albanian communities and in particular IDPs and returnees are faced with the lack of implementation of affirmative actions, which are supposed to enable their access to the job market, they cannot realize their right to be informed in relation to the right to benefit from the privatisation of the enterprises in which they worked, and they are exposed to constant violations of the provision on the official use of the Serbian language in relation to job accessibility and lack of solutions for employment re-instatement.
  • b) The process of privatisation of the Socially Owned Enterprises (SOEs) – around 90% of Kosovo’s industrial assets – was conducted without taking into consideration the particular situation of former SOEs employees belonging to minority communities.
  • c) Most of returnees and IDPS that were SOEs employees before being forced into displacement were in a direct and indirect manner excluded from the privatisation process by UNMIK, because of the discriminatory character of the regulatory framework regulating the privatisation process.
  • d) The privatisation process has further increased the unemployment rate among the non-Albanian communities in Kosovo, as the privatisation policies did not provide any safeguards for the adequate application of non-discrimination policies in the privatised companies, in particular in relation to the preservation of multiethnic character of the workforce.
  • e) The right to work of returnees is hampered by the continuous theft of property and movable personal estates necessary for exercising the right guaranteed by Art. 6 and by the illegal occupation of agricultural land belonging to returnees. The illegal use of agricultural land and the theft of agricultural equipment is rarely prosecuted and hampers the economic sustainability of minority communities in Kosovo. 

Art. 11 (Right to an adequate standard of living) 

  • a) The return of over 200.000 IDPs still remains a priority nine years after the end of the conflict.
  • b) The programmes of socio-economic assistance only in very rare cases improved the economic sustainability of returnees, as they don’t pay necessary attention to the need of levelling the playfield for all communities and they are of limited impact and financial value.
  • c) The issue of the Roma population displaced from the Mahalla settlement in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica in 1999 still needs to be seriously addressed. 

Art. 13 and Art. 14 (Right to education) 

  • a) Since the establishment of UNMIK, non-Albanian speakers that whish to pursue their education in their native language are experiencing very limited options for higher education.  

Art. 15 (Cultural and scientific progress rights) 

  • a) The reconstruction of sites belonging to the cultural heritage of non-Albanian ethnic groups is still being performed with very low quality and at slow pace. Reconstructed sites in most cases lack proper protection and are exposed to vandalism and looting. 

Author: UNIJA/UNION (Federation of IDP Associations) 

October 2008 

The entire document is available here.