Photo_EULEX 2016

Policy Brief: Local Ownership and the Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo

GPPAC informs policy through the production of policy briefs that analyse conflicts from a human security perspective. This policy brief on local ownership and the rule of law mission in Kosovo is a collaboration between researcher Filip Edjus of the University of Bristol and GPPAC.

In 2008, the EU launched EULEX, its biggest and most ambitious Common Security and Defence mission with the aim of supporting the establishment of effective rule of law institutions in Kosovo. The mission cost over 1 €billion and at its peak comprised of 3200 personnel including policemen, judges and prosecutors from various European countries. In addition to its advisory role, EULEX was also given an executive mandate to investigate and prosecute, on its own or together with its Kosovar counterparts, serious cases of organized crime, corruption and war crimes. 

In June 2016, the EU extended the mandate of the Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) until June 2018. While the fate of the mission after that date is still uncertain, the coming end of the current mandate provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of a decade long and over a billion € worth of EU investment in Kosovo's rule of law. Despite limited achievements, the mission has struggled to make a substantial improvement to the Kosovo's rule of law, and has not met the expectation to bring to justice key perpetrators of war crimes and corruption. This policy brief shows that an important but often overlooked impediment to the impact of EULEX has been the gap between EU's rhetoric and practice of local ownership. In the policy discourse, the EU construes ownership as a broad and inclusive negotiation and compromise building. In practice, lacking trust in local institutions and overly concerned for short term stability, EULEX has either disregarded the local ownership principle altogether, or at best practiced it as an outside-in and elite-centred transfer of responsibility for externally devised objectives. The rhetoric/practice gap on local ownership severely undermined the local legitimacy of EULEX and debilitated its long-term impact.

Read the full policy brief here.

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