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The NATO and EU Missions in Kosovo: Drawing Lessons From the Past to Face Current Challenges

Written by Manel Bernadó

In the aftermath of the war in Kosovo, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1244 (1999), whereby a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) would be deployed to stabilise the region and prevent further violence. Though initially composed of around 50,000 personnel, NATO’s presence was progressively downsized as the security environment improved. The mission successfully prevented the resumption of hostilities in the Western Balkans and supported the transition towards peace and democracy in Kosovo. However, sporadic incidents of violence have often revived unresolved tensions in the country. The impossibility of reaching a consensus on Kosovo’s international status and its declaration of independence in 2008 led to an extension of KFOR’s presence in the region. As the declaration of independence threatened to trigger another wave of violence, the European Union also established the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which focused on supporting Kosovo’s authorities in upholding the rule of law and reforming Kosovo’s police, judiciary and customs.