This report documents and assesses the responses by municipalities to serious security incidents affecting non-majority communities1. A “serious security incident” is classified as one that has the potential to destabilize the security situation, and includes verbal or physical attacks on persons, private property and sites of cultural and religious significance.

Security incidents have an adverse impact on communities’ actual and perceived safety and security, and can restrict their freedom of movement and limit their access to essential rights and services. They also have the potential to increase inter-ethnic tensions, and to undermine relations between non-majority communities and municipal institutions. However, the findings of this report suggest that these negative effects can be mitigated if municipal institutions respond in an adequate and timely manner to the incident in question – for example, through dialogue in appropriate forums, public statements condemning acts of violence and outreach to the affected community.

During the reporting period, non-majority communities in Kosovo continued to be negatively affected by security incidents targeting persons, private property and sites of cultural and religious significance. Some municipalities have begun to adopt a proactive response to security incidents, primarily through official condemnation and outreach activities targeting the affected communities. Where these activities occurred, there was a clear positive correlation with the affected communities’ perceptions of their safety and security, with the affected communities reporting that their perception of security was improved.

Despite these positive examples, municipal responses to security incidents generally occurred on an ad hoc basis, with no consistency of approach between municipalities. Furthermore, many municipalities have not fulfilled their obligations towards the establishment and conduct of their Municipal Community Safety Council (MCSC), which is the municipal body that is best able to ensure appropriate responses to security incidents.

Where municipalities did respond to security incidents, community representatives noted a number of persistent problems. For example, in some cases public statements by municipal officials were not translated into non-majority community languages and thus were not accessible to the community affected by the incident. Furthermore, where municipal officials did condemn a security incident affecting a non-majority community, such action was regarded as largely symbolic by the affected community unless accompanied by outreach and dialogue activities.

Given the positive correlation between adequate and timely municipal responses to serious security incidents and perceptions of security among the affected community, stakeholders should work together to develop a consistent approach. This would be assisted by further development and full implementation of the legal and regulatory framework relating to security of communities, especially to MCSCs. Municipal officials should use the mechanism of the MCSCs to implement a best practice approach in responding to security incidents through public condemnation and outreach to affected communities.

This Report is based on the regular monitoring activities of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo over the period of January to December 2010. The OSCE continues to monitor, report and follow-up on the responses of municipalities to security-related incidents affecting non-majority communities, with heightened attention following the events beginning in late July 2011.

December 2011

The full report is available here.