The conundrum of local ownership in developing a security sector: the case of Kosovo

The concept of 'local ownership' has been an article of faith within the development community for a number of years. It is therefore not surprising to see it being applied more recently to the normative process of Security Sector Reform (SSR). Empirical evidence would suggest, however, that local ownership has been more evident in the theory of SSR than in its practice, where short-term expediency often tends to trump long-term sustainability. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of Kosovo.

The security sector in Kosovo has been built from scratch with the support of the international community and thus offers a unique post-communist and post-conflict example. Whilst the declaration of independence in 2008 has changed the context, the international community's role in developing the local security sector is still manifestly evident. The multitude of both international and local actors on the ground still creates a confusing picture of who, in reality, leads and owns the process.
This article will apply the evolving concept of „local ownership‟ to the development of the security sector in Kosovo and more specifically will analyse the case study of the development of the National Security Strategy of Kosovo in 2009-2010. It will argue that in many cases the international community's approach has taken little notice of the local context and the needs of the country. It has driven forward an international agenda rather than supporting the legitimate efforts of local actors to undertake their own SSR. Although the impasse that resulted from the UN Future Status process in 2007 continues to complicate the political situation for all concerned, insufficient effort has been made by the international community to hand over responsibility for all aspects of the security sector and their development to the Kosovo Government and its people, in line with the principles of local ownership.

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