Background of the Conflict
Ibrahim Rugova who is the leader of the ethnic Albanians in Kosova province of Serbia started non-violant demostrations in 1989 againist the policy of the leader of the Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic who stated that the Muslim Albenians are in a sacred place for Serbs. Because Kosova is a place where Ottomans has beaten the Serbs in 1389 and Serbs gained their victory againist the Turks in 1912. And also there is a Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosova.
In 1996 Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) emerged out and they main target is Serbian police forces and also politians. The actions of the KLA inceased over time and converted to the uprising. The Yugoslavian Armed Forces tried to supress KLA activities ,however, it has drawn attantion of the international actors. The Contact Group(consist of the United States, France, Gemany, Britain, Russia and Italy) was formed as a negotiator and asked for the both sides for cease-fire. At cease-fire period KLA became a more stronger and Serbians didnt carry out the orders of the Contact Group.
In 1999 diplomatic negotiations began in a province of France called Rambouillet, however, it was frozen by the air strikes of NATO to the Serbian military forces. Serbian goverment displaced aproximately 500 000 Albanians because of the NATOs’ air strike. After 11 weeks peace were made between the sides and Serbs have left some of the regions and some of displaced albenians have come back to their homes again. UN peacekeeping forces deploye d to the Kosova.
In Kosova the level of the tension is decreased over time but never ended untill the independence of Kosova. In 2004 riots againist the Serbs again emerged out and resulted with the lives of 30 people and 4 000 displacement. In 2008 Kosova gained its Independence from Serbia. UN and United States recognize Kosova as a independent State but Serbia does not recognize.
Operation Allied Forces
With UN Security Council Resolution 1199 NATO has given responces to the crisis in Kosova. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have thought that they would manage to take over the Kosova Liberation Army(KLA) within 10 days. And the Serbian side has never presumed the air strikes’ of NATO. Also Serbian side believe in that even if NATO launch operation againist them it would not last long because political divisions would be happened within the unity. At 1900 hours GMT on 24 March 1999, airstrike againist to the Federal Republic Of Yugoslavia has launched as a part of the Operation Allied Force. The aim of the airstrikes are these which Former Yugoslavia sought to:
Repression and conlict in Kosovo also military actions would be ended imediately;
To provide withdrawal of Serbian military forces, paramilitary forcesand police forces from Kosovo;
There will be an agreement about an international military presence would be deployed in Kosova;
Also accoring to agreement refugees and displaced people would be returned to their home again and humanitarian aid would not be perevented from them.
Provide credible assurance of Serbian willingness to work on the basis of the Rambouillet Accords in the establishment of a political framework agreement for Kosovo in conformity with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
The air strikes would be prepared to suspend by NATO only if Serbs withdraw its forces from Kosova and fulfill the obligaitons above. Also Serbian forces withdraw from Kosova where an international military forces will be deployed to defence and guard the area and demilitarization of the region of Kosova will be made.
The gainings of the air strikes were;
Serbian attacks decreased,
Military force of Serbia lost its effectiveness and decreased its offencive actions in Kosova.
In 1998 ceasefire agreement were made, however, NATO forces are always ready for using of power if negotiations do not work. Defence Minister of NATO has prepared 2 types of operation plans. The first one is a 5-phased air strkes to supress the ability of Serbian air defence system and in the end deliver great blow to the Serbian military capability. And the second one is named as “limited dair responces”. The aim of the second one is to put an end to deterioration of the conditions in Kosova.
After 13 October 1998, NATO Activation Order(ACTORD) became effective. In 27 October 1998, the judgment by NATO would pursue ACTORD with execution dependent on a NATO counsil decition. Operation Allied Forces came into life with the support of the North Atlantic Council, and air strikes will show difersification to the places acording to the their locations and targets. Operation Allied Force’s phase Zero started in 20 january 1999, has understand as a signal of the operations’ contd. Phase 1 feeled as the making of limited air strikes. The aims of the targets were determined and started on 24 March 1999.
Air defence system (rader, weapons, aircrafts) were included in the NATO operations and used againist the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Phase 1 improved from the limited response and offered in1998. Phase 2 was launced after Phase 1. Phase 2 which began in the 27 march 1999 and NATO forces increased their attacks and enlarged their military based security.(e.g. barraks, headquarters, ammunition depot) in Kosova. Phase 2 resolution was taken by unanimously by NATO members.
With “Limited Air Responce” in phase one NATO members has made small air strikes againist the military forces of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and avoided from using of excessive military power againist the Serbs.
NATO was making operations in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and also was controlling and making operations outside of the Yugoslavia to protect the air defence system of NATO members and made observation about the defence capability of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for NATO’s Stabilization Force(SFOR) in Bosnia-herzegovina. NATO has aimed to minimize the civil damage. The operations of NATO had started within the 48 hours after judgment were made. This concept has been accepted in 21 August 1998.
The main aim of the Phase 1 was to create pressure againist Yugoslavia to make peaceful Kosova. Some of the NATO member countries had thought that the air strikes must not be last longer than one week. NATO members did not want to destruct the city wholly, they only wanted to threaten the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia so that they suppose peace would come to the Kosova.
However, later the content of the operation has enlarged. NATO allies began to aim strategic center and the places of follower of President Milosevic.
NATO had pushed the Milosevic through air forces to approve their wishes, however, did not achieved its goal and to prevend Serbian government to violate the ethnic rights of the Kosovars.
NATO achieved the air supeority in Kosova and Milosevic’s defence ability decreased. NATO air forces has bombed some civilian targets by accidently in a town of Kosova called Djakovica. And pilots of NATO aircrafts and American F-16 pilots of NATO were shot by the fire of Yugoslavian defence system. After that allies took some measurements.
Phase 3 within the Operation Allied Forces could not launched. With Phase 3 NATO would expand the air operations to the North of the 44th paralel in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Later Phase 3 has percieved as an unnecessary action. In the 1999 NATO summit, the operation areas of Phase 1 and Phase 2 was expanded to make necessary pressure againist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Phase 4 and Phase 5 also did not launched. Among the NATO allies the tension began to increase because the pilots of aircrafts were bombed some refuge camps by accidently. The members of NATO has said that the public would take their support back because of the civillian casualties. In 1999 Chines Embassy were bombed accidently, in Belgrade. The main target was Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement. After that incident bombing attacks were stopped in the city aproximately 2 weeks.
The terrain of Kosova was memorized by the all NATO pilots and they have known the tactics of Serbian military forces. Serbs needed to chance their tactics because the were cornered by NATO Forces. Also Kosova Liberation Army wore out the Serbian Military.
After 78 days in June 1999 Operation Allied Forces has finished. NATO’s air strikes has convinced the President Milosevic to end the war. Beceuse Serbian military infrastructure was desroyed not only in the Kosova but also in the all country.
On 3 June 1999, peace agrement was accepted by the President Milosevic. On 10 June 1999, NATO forces deployed in Kosova, Operation Allied Forces ended and Operation Joint Guardian started.
NATO conducted the peace support operations in Kosovo in 1999 in order to bring peace and stability to the area. KFOR (Kosovo Force) was established against Serbian leader Milosevic’s regime for the purpose of putting an end his brutal actions in Kosovo. The operation directives were given by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. Main goal of KFOR was to deter the hostile forces and secure the territory ensuring public safety and order. KFOR tried to demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army by coordinating with the international civil presence and humanitarian effort.
KFOR deployed into Kosovo on 12th June 1999 after 78 days of air operation of Operation Allied Forces for the purpose of putting an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo during that time. Initial tasks of KFOR were to assist the return of the refugees and displaced people, supply medical assistance, demine and reconstruct the territory, ensure border security and public order, prevent cross-border weapon smuggling, support the establishment of basic civilian institutions such as the judicial and panel system, law and order, electoral process and other aspects of the economic, political and social life in Kosovo.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 went into operation on 10th of June in 1999 and KFOR entered Kosovo on 12th of June. By 20th of June Serbian forces drew back all its troops from Kosovo. KFOR initially consisted of 50,000 men and women from NATO member countries. Until 2002, KFOR reduced its troops up to 39,000. The more secure environment meant less troops in Kosovo for NATO and they decreased it up to 17,500 by the end of 2003. Today, KFOR includes roughly 4,500 troops provided by 31 states.
United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)
UNMIK established and get ready for the operation in June 1999 with the authorization of UNSC Resolution 1244. The Security Council of United Nations gave authorization to UNMIK over the territory and people of Kosovo, including all legislative and executive powers and administration of the judiciary. Therefore, de facto administration of UNMIC had started.
Main responsibilities of UNMIK includes supporting the establishment of autonomy and self-government in Kosovo, being helpful to the political process in order to determine Kosovo’s future status, promoting humanitarian values in the country, putting support behind the reconstruction of the infrastructure, maintaining civil law and order and last but not least assuring the safe return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo.
There were four-pillar structure in UNMIK;
Pillar 1: Civil Administration (UN),
Pillar 2: Humanitarian Assistance (UNHCR),
Pillar 3: Democratization and Institution Building (OSCE),
Pillar 4: Reconstruction and Economic Development (EU)
Pillar 2 was abolished in May 2001, after the majority of the refugees returned and Pillar 2 replaced by the Police and Justice Pillar.
In 2000 and 2002, municipal elections were held for Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and UNMIK undertook the executive and administrative responsibilities. PISG involved assembly, president, government and courts. As a result of that development, UNMIK changed its executive role into monitoring role.
In 2002, ‘Standarts for Kosovo’ determined by UNMIK. These standarts were developing democratic institutions, protecting the rights of communities and their members, instituting the rule of law, supporting freedom of movement, protecting property rights, setting up the Kosovo Protection Corps etc. The purpose of these standards was to create a more tolerant multi-ethnic society, improve levels of public sector performance, and establish a good governance system in Kosovo.
Responsibility to Protect
The international community developed a new concept for failures to respond a humanitarian intervention with a legal basis. Because of all the conflicts about human security and sovereignty, humanitarian intervention turned into the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). That simply means that states are responsible for the protection of lives of civilians. If there is any failure in implementing this rule, governments with the authorization of the United Nation has the right to act using military force as a last resort for protecting the civilians. The main goal of R2P is to protect people from mass killing, women from rape, and children from starvation. However, if states fail, unwilling to take the blame, or states themselves cause human suffering then responsibility passes to the international community to act.
How NATO intervention justified?
Humanitarian intervention is acceptable to exercise if there is any threats to basic human rights. This ethic approach determines the intervention. There were two point of views about Kosovo intervention. First one, Kosovo example was a struggle for self-determination within a sovereign state where NATO should have not intervene. NATO’s air operation caused risks upon civilians. Failure convincing Milosevic to accept a settlement for Kosovo extended the scale of violence. Primary goal should be to disarm and separate conflict parties, and protect civilians. It is argued that NATO escalated the conflict in Kosovo and failed to prevent human suffering.
The aim of a humanitarian intervention should be relief from human suffering as much as possible. NATO trusted on the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to conduct the land operation against Serbia while NATO wishing the air bombardment. Humanitarian intervention should be used only for emergencies and it can be acceptable and justified only if the consequences have the potential to be better or at least not worse when intervention comes true. We can accept that Kosovo intervention was under the emergency title because of the mass killings, torture and rape incidents. Some people even claim that the consequences of the intervention would be better if intervention did not occur. NATO’s operations in Kosovo perceived as an attempt of cleansing of the Serbian police and the paramilitary forces. On the other hand, large scale human suffering in Kosovo which is caused by Serbians shows us that humanitarian intervention was necessary.
Another criteria for humanitarian intervention takes into consideration whether suffering is caused by deliberate abuse. The abuses carried out in Kosovo was part of an obvious plan of ethnic cleansing and the responsible of the conflict and violence in Kosovo was Milosevic and its military forces. We should also look if suffering is ongoing and we know that NATO overrode while abuses were still present. The intervention in Kosovo was necessary. However, just because intervention was necessary does not mean that operation of NATO in Kosovo was flawless. We know that NATO’s air bombardments did not put an end the violence against civilians in Kosovo. NATO’s decision to use air force rather than ground troops indicates us that they preferred civilian casualties to NATO soldiers’ life guarantee. Ground forces were deployed after war almost ended. There is still different arguments about the necessity of NATO’s intervention to Kosovo and the convenience of its actions with the principle of Responsible to Protect. The aim of the intervention was to promote human security that failed in Kosovo, but using the force unilaterally meant the violation of international law.
To what extend has NATO’s operation been appropriate to the principle of Responsible to Protect?
Turning a blind eye to continuing obvious human rights abuses, cut the very ideas that inspired the founding of the United Nation with an axe. NATO stated that we could have intervened several months before the war, but we had waited and still hoped that diplomatic solution could be reached. NATO decided to intervene because there was no other option of how to protect the Kosovar Albanians. NATO’s only choice was to drive organized Serbian forces out of Kosovo and destroy them. NATO’s big mistake became the choice of bombing which caused many deaths of civilians. That strategy risked civilian lives and poses doubts to NATO’s humanitarian purposes of the intervention.
On the other hand, some claim that there were serious obstacles, which would have prevented the preparation of ground forces and it would have taken months to establish a ready ground force. Milosevic also hardened the peace process by rejecting the negotiations and ignoring the warnings had been given towards him for the issue of Kosovo. There was no reasonable way to deal with Milosevic. He rejected any further settlement for the case of Kosovo during the Ramboilett peace negotiations, France, in February 1999.
To conclude, NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999 was welcomed by many and accepted as a successful operation by Western states. However, when we evaluate the justifications given to the intervention, we see that followed principles of jus ad humanitarianism and jus ad bellum and Operation Allied Force was not fair as NATO reflected us. Although there was undoubtedly a humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, the methods chosen by NATO to deal with the problem were not right (due to the lack of priority for humanitarianism). NATO’s decision to use remote bombing rather than land invasions endangered civilian lives and caused to mass mandatory migration of refugees. Therefore NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999 was not a complete fair intervention, and the contribution that this intervention has made to the developing norm of Responsibility to Protect is highly questionable. It can be concluded that humanitarian intervention cases in the world sometimes can be used as a tool by outside actors for the purpose of legitimizing their actions, which are mostly based on their own interest.
Written by Ömer Faruk Tanrıverdi and Resul Avşar