Kosovo’s Home-Grown SSR: The Strategic Security Sector Review – Part Two By: Anthony Welch | Kosovo | Jun 19, 2014

Kosovo’s own security sector reform (SSR) process – the Strategic Security Sector Review (SSSR) – began in April 2012, updating the international community’s Internal Security Sector Review that was completed in parallel with the UN Final Status Talks on Kosovo’s independence in 2006. The structure and methodology used by the SSSR have already been discussed in Part One.

The SSSR was heralded as being conducted in accordance with the principles of openness, transparency, and accountability, with a wide spectrum of institutions and bodies being consulted. The Kosovo government was keen to demonstrate that they were now sufficiently well developed to analyze their own security needs and instigate a comprehensive reform programme.

However, from the start of the process, the United States had a close association with the decisions taken. The Defense Institution Reform Initiative (DIRI), a part of the US Department of Defense, sent experts to assist the SSSR Steering Committee in its work. DIRI focused on the aspects of the reform initiative that dealt with the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) and its future. DIRI did not look into the wider aspects of the reform process, which were meant to deal with issues of security that included health, education, inter-racial relationships, and economics.

From the beginning, the SSSR was challenged by its dependence on the regional political agenda and a lack of timelines, which would have enabled a clearer process.  There were delays in changing institutional roles and responsibilities and a weakened division of ministerial duties, coupled with a lack of institutional expertise and a lack of cooperation between ministries. In addition, it suffered from budget deficits. As the process fell behind schedule, it began to neglect the inclusive and transparent approach heralded at its inception and by which civil society, independent experts, and media could have been actively involved.

Media coverage of the process focused on the creation of a Kosovo Army, with other ministries feeling excluded from the discussions, particularly as the Chairman of the Steering Committee and main driving force of the programme was the Minister of the KSF Agim Ceku. Coupled with the assistance being afforded by the US, which was primarily focused on planning for the future of the KSF, the government’s wider approach became lackadaisical; timelines slipped and input became spasmodic. The responsibly for the production of the final report changed hands several times, until media demands for the publication of the outcomes focused attention on the need to publish the results of the Review.

In March 2014, the report of the SSSR was finally produced. It covered a number of aspects of Kosovo’s security and essentially listed security-related requirements to be undertaken by the government over the next five years. It directed the Kosovo Security Council to develop a new National Security Strategy for approval by the government by the end of September 2014. The Ministry of Internal Affairs was to lead an inter-agency review of the National Response Plan to improve Kosovo emergency response capabilities by the end of 2015.

The Ministry of the KSF, now renamed the Ministry of Defence, was to produce a National Defence Strategy for approval by the Kosovo government. The document was to describe how the Ministry of Defence and the Kosovo Armed Forces would support the implementation of national interests and objectives as established in the National Security Strategy. The National Defence Strategy was to describe the future security environment as it affected the planning of the Ministry of Defence and the Kosovo Armed Forces. It was to set out, in detail, the Armed Forces structure, modernization plans, infrastructure requirements, projected budget requirements, and other elements relevant for understanding and supporting Kosovo’s long-term defence program. In addition, the organizational structure of the Ministry, oversight, management, administration, and policy guidance for the future military force were to be articulated.

The Office of the Prime Minister would be responsible for managing, coordinating, and monitoring the development of a master inter-ministerial SSSR Implementation Plan, based on the individual ministry implementation plans. The master Implementation Plan would identify which office had primary responsibility for each directed action/recommendation. The Office of the Prime Minister was to establish an inter-agency working group structure with appropriate sub-committees to assist in the management of this Plan. The Plan itself was to be developed and published during 2014 and then revised as required. Further, the Office of the Prime Minister would work with the Assembly to revise the current oversight responsibilities of the Committee on Internal Affairs, Security and Supervision of the Kosovo Security Force and create two new oversight committees: one on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the other on the new Ministry of Defence.

The Office of the Prime Minister would also establish an inter-ministerial working group for the purpose of developing recommendations and actions that the Government of Kosovo can initiate to improve its relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); thus putting Kosovo on the path towards participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, which served as a stepping-stone to NATO membership. The working group was to be led by the Minister of Defence, together with senior representatives from each ministry that participated in the SSSR. Additionally, based on the recommendation of the Ministry for the KSF and endorsed by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Pristina University would establish a defence and security curriculum to assist in developing future leaders for both the Ministry of Defence and the Kosovo Armed Forces.

After much effort and delay, Kosovo’s SSR programme was completed. Rather than the holistic, transparent, and citizen-based programme, it effectively concluded as a defence review aimed at achieving the Minister of the KSF’s desire to create a National Army.[1] To be fair, this was also the desire of the majority of the citizens of Kosovo but an opportunity was lost in not undertaking a wider SSR programme.

However, despite falling below the levels of local ownership and transparency promised at the start of the Review, the recommendations of the SSSR may allow, over the next few years, for an adjustment to this narrow outcome. Indeed, a broader examination of the security requirements of the Kosovo Republic may then emerge.  Having achieved the aim of creating a National Army, the Kosovo government could find itself with more room to revisit many of the areas touched upon during the SSSR and widen their scope, thereby fulfilling its promise to provide security for Kosovo, its citizens, and their property.

Anthony Cleland Welch OBE, a retired British Brigadier-General, holds a PhD in Security Sector Management and spent the past seventeen years working in post-conflict and developing countries. In 2006, he was coordinator of the Internal Security Sector Review of Kosovo.

[1] In late 2013, in discussions with Minister Ceku, the author asked if he had ambitions to become President of Kosovo, having been Prime Minister and Minister of the KSF. He said that he had only one ambition and that was to create a National Army for Kosovo.

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