United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

August 1999


On June 10, 1999, after the suspension of NATO air strikes, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution UN Security Council resolution 1244, authorizing the establishment of an interim international civilian administration in Kosovo. Under the administration Kosovo could enjoy substantial autonomy.

On June 12, 1999, the operational concept of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was presented.


The Security Council vested in the UN Mission authority over the territory and people of Kosovo, including all legislative and executive powers, as well as the administration of the judiciary.

Objectives include:

  • Promotion of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo.
  • Performance of basic civilian administrative functions.
  • Establishing a political process to determine Kosovo's future status.
  • Reconstruction of key infrastructure and humanitarian and disaster relief.
  • Maintaining civil law and order.
  • Promotion of human rights.
  • Assurance of the safe return of all refugees to their homes in Kosovo.


On July 15, 1999, Bernard Kouchner (France) assumed office as Special Representative of the Secretary-General. His responsibility can be divided over "four pillars":

  • Civil administration, under the United Nations itself.
  • Humanitarian assistance, led by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • Democratization and institution-building, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
  • Economic reconstruction, managed by the European Union.

Phased Strategy

The UN divided the work in five different phases:

  1. Administrative structures will be set up, international civilian police deployed, emergency assistance provided for returning refugees, public services restored and local police and judiciary trained.
  2. The UN will focus on administration of social services and utilities, and consolidation of the rule of law. Some of the administrative duties, such as health and education could be transferred to local authorities. Preparation for elections will begin.
  3. UNMIK will finalize preparations and conduct elections for a Kosovo Transitional Authority.
  4. The elected representatives will be assisted in organizing provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government.
  5. This concluding phase will depend on a final settlement of the status of Kosovo. UNMIK will oversee the transfer of authority from Kosovo’s provisional institutions to institutions established under a political settlement.


In an article on September 17, 1999, the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad reported about the problems regarding UNMIK. The article described how the UN originally was to take over administrative functions in Kosovo but that the mission had a slow start and that the UN had difficulty convincing nations to participate.

Headquarters were established in Pristina and five regional heads were appointed. However, on the level of communities, no one was immediately appointed. In August of 1999, the OSCE sent four experts. Their conclusion was that it was the KLA who was actually in control and that the influence of their mayors was hardly controlled. The five UN regional heads were fully ignored by the illegal KLA mayors. One of them, Kadri Kryeziu, said "the Albanians have asked the international community to intervene and remove the Serb military forces. But the Albanians never asked to be taken over and controlled."

The UN seemed to realize little could be done to remove the KLA mayors, since their influences stretched too far. So the UN called its attitude flexible. In fact, the role of the UN mayors was limited to that of advisors, a role originally plotted for the KLA mayors.

Source: UN, NRC Handelsblad.