This report reviews the progress made by Kosovo’s municipalities to develop and effectively implement strategies, policies and programmes for displaced persons and returnees in compliance with the normative and policy framework for returns and the protection and promotion of community rights. It also identifies and analyzes the key challenges currently preventing municipal institutions from providing more effective protection and assistance to displaced persons and returnees. The report covers the period from January 2009 to June 2010. Findings presented are based on regular monitoring activities by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Mission in Kosovo (OSCE) in the field of promotion and protection of community rights and participation of non-majority communities in public life.

The report finds that, although municipalities are required to develop and implement annual policies and strategies enabling them to take responsibility for returns and reintegration activities, the progress made in fulfilling their obligations has been limited and uneven. Just over half of the municipalities in Kosovo developed and approved a municipal returns strategy in 2009. In the first six months of 2010, only nine municipalities have approved strategies to guide their work on returns and reintegration. Where municipal returns strategies have been adopted, they are often only partially implemented. Some municipalities have made considerable efforts to support returns and durable solutions for displaced persons. Where there are successful projects for returns and reintegration in the municipalities, they are mainly led and funded by the Ministry of Communities and Returns and international organizations, although municipalities are instrumental in ensuring the success of the projects by supporting and complementing the activity in their area of responsibility.

The challenges observed by the OSCE in developing and effectively implementing policies, strategies and programmes for displaced persons and returnees at the local level are numerous. They include weak political commitment to returns by relevant officials, insufficient planning and allocation of financial resources, a lack of coordination and co-operation between the central and local level institutions, and limited capacity for policy-making, project planning and project implementation at the municipal level. Other obstacles, such as limited access to property, lack of economic opportunities, and difficulties in accessing health services, social assistance and education opportunities are also relevant to those persons considering return or local integration, and, as such, must be effectively addressed by municipalities in cooperation with relevant stakeholders at the central and local level. This report reaffirms the crucial role of municipalities in creating conditions conducive to returns and community stability at the local level and makes recommendations to municipalities, central institutions and the international community to encourage such conditions. There is a need for effective participation, co-ordination and information sharing between relevant stakeholders at central and local level in all stages of planning and implementation of municipal policies, strategies and projects for displaced persons and returnees; for strengthening institutional mechanisms and capacities to address the needs of displaced persons/returnees; and for allocating sufficient financial resources for the implementation of strategies and programmes to support returns or other durable solutions for displaced persons/returnees.

The report is available here.

Source: OSCE

November 201O