This project is a pilot and preparatory study to an upcoming 3-4 year research project on dominating conceptualisations of the right to self-determination and implications of international state building in Kosovo. The pilot will also look into one central part of Kosovo’s international state building project – privatisation – and include interviews with a few relevant actors, observers and experts. International state-building in Kosovo – security, self-determination, and privatisation
Rita Augestad Knudsen is the author of The Comprehensive UN Sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – Aims, Impact and Legacy (2008) and managed the NUPI-project resulting in the book. She has been based in Kosovo as a researcher, analyst, journalist and university lecturer for the last three years.
A core premise of contemporary Western security paradigms is that liberal democracies are less likely to be subject to violent conflict than so-called fragile or failed states with weak institutions. Within this framework, state building has emerged as a preferred security strategy. State building is here understood as a process where international actors intervene and define “fragile” countries’ development models and take charge of areas of governance normally reserved for sovereign states – an involvement aimed at “building” a kind of country that should not pose a threat to international peace and security.
The international state building project in Kosovo is one of the most encompassing ever: since the end of the war in 1999, the international community has run Kosovo with executive, judicial and legislative powers. International state builders aimed at preventing conflict by themselves taking over Kosovo’s governance, and by installing their own military and police forces to safeguard the place from violence. In 2008, Kosovo further distinguished itself from other state building cases by declaring independence from Serbia, without problematising the international state building project’s wide-ranging authorities. If international state building represents a challenge to dominant conceptualisations of sovereignty, democracy and self-determination, this challenge is particularly pointed in the case of Kosovo. What is at stake with Kosovo’s international state building project goes to the heart of questions of what a state is, and who has the right to govern and define its legitimacy, scope and legal basis.
Privatisation is chosen as one of the pilot project’s focus areas because Kosovo’s privatisation process should be seen as a key part of the international state building project and because the privatisation process continues to be highlighted as an example of the success of international state building. Privatisation was a core part of the strategy of “building” Kosovo as a market liberal democracy – reflecting the state-builders’ understanding of democracy and market economy being closely related preconditions for international security. Economic policy and administration of public resources, normally within a country’s sovereign control, were in Kosovo managed by international state builders. At the same time, after eleven years of international state building, Kosovo is characterised as a developing country; half of the population lives in poverty and a similar proportion is unemployed; the infrastructure is in crisis; and the health and education systems are dramatically flawed. The international involvement in Kosovo’s privatisation process is central for understanding the international state building project and the challenge it poses to dominating understandings of sovereignty and self-determination.
- Rita Augestad Knudsen (2010). Privatization in Kosovo: The International Project 1999–2008. Oslo, NUPI. 109 pages. NUPI Report. This report focuses on internationally managed privatization in Kosovo as an example of international statebuilding.