Internal Security Sector Review (ISSR) in Kosovo

Context

United Nations Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under United Nations administration in 1999, following the NATO bombing campaign that put an end to the conflict between the Albanian population and the Serbian regime run by Slobodan Milosevic. Since then, Kosovo has had two parliamentary and two local elections that created the Provisional Institutions of Self Government (PISG), and more control is being transferred to these local authorities. A Kosovo Internal Security Sector Review (ISSR) was undertaken to help define security needs and analyse the institutional capacity required to address threats via a consultative process involving local experts and citizens. The ISSR has been one of the most ambitious and holistic efforts at SSR undertaken in recent years, in both scope and methodology.

Entry point 

One of the main principles guiding the ISSR in Kosovo has been to firmly establish public ownership. The goal was to ensure that all of Kosovo’s communities were not only aware of, but had the opportunity to be engaged in, the ISSR process. The campaign aimed to enhance the level of public dialogue about security and to encourage the transparency of Kosovo’s security institutions and policy-making process. Under the slogan “Have Your Say on Security”, the ISSR Communications Team opened a number of channels through which the public could contribute, including: 1) public opinion surveys conducted in over 800 homes, 2) recorded commentaries from citizens gathered by the “Have Your Say” Bus, which travelled through urban and rural areas of Kosovo, 3) comment boxes located in every municipal building or in cultural centres in areas inhabited by minority groups, 4) emails sent directly to the ISSR address, 5) phone calls made to the ISSR hotline, 6) questionnaires completed by individual citizens, 7) public debates among Kosovo’s key security figures regarding issues outlined in the ISSR report, 8) television and radio programmes on national and local stations with active participation of the audience, 9) town hall meetings facilitated by the OSCE across all of Kosovo’s municipalities. 

Lessons identified

Ownership — The success of SSR will depend on the degree to which the process is driven by the local population from the initial stages. Media and outreach campaigns must reflect that ownership by featuring local personalities and key politicians who are seen as leading the process. Every outreach initiative should be sensitive to the local context and culture; the means of communication and messages must be designed accordingly. The communications strategy, designed in full co-operation with the local population, must be created and tested by a variety of focus groups representative of all ethnic populations.

Tailoring the message to the audience — The effectiveness of the communications and outreach strategy must take into account the variety of audiences — their backgrounds, interests and fears. The message and outreach modalities must be formulated and delivered in a culture- and contextsensitive manner.

Not raising expectations — A large-scale outreach initiative aimed at ensuring full public ownership of the process is likely to raise high expectations, which the international community (due to lack of funds or due to political circumstances) may not be able to deliver.

Impact

At this stage it is too early to assess the full extent of the outreach initiative’s impact. However, over 800 people participated in consultative town hall meetings, 700 took part in TV debates on the most popular television channel, 20'000 leaflets were distributed to the inhabitants of urban and rural areas, over 70 billboards were placed on Kosovo’s main and secondary roads, and over 800 television spots encouraged the public to “Have Their Say” on security. For three months an ISSR bus travelled 250 throughout Kosovo collecting input by videotaped message, sealed letters and responses to a questionnaire. In addition, 40 suggestion boxes were placed in public buildings as a method of gathering anonymous comments. Quantitative results were gained from the 1'039 questionnaires received by ISSR.

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