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What makes Kosovo a postconflict “weak” state? A dual focus: discussing around liberal interventionism and the legacy of the past

Marius Calu
Queen Mary, University of London
Marius Calu
Queen Mary, University of London
Open Panel

Abstract

In this chapter I will be drawing from one of the key hypotheses of my PhD project which affirms that peacebuilding in practice has mainly been focusing only on the incipient part of the missions, how to stop a conflict and establish peace and it has ignored or poorly managed the long-term objective of maintaining peace. If to maintain peace equals to build a state with all the necessary elements and capacity to avoid falling into conflict again, then the aim of this chapter is to look at the reasons why Kosovo represents a weak state in the context of the post-conflict statebuilding mission which includes the UNMIK and EU stages. The starting point will be to identify disadvantages in both the local context and the role of external administrators. In the context of a peacebuilding missions there can be identified two stages: 1) stop the conflict and 2) establish and maintain peace with the aim of building a state. These stages are meant to come as a response to the initial causes of the conflict, thus the necessity to develop solutions for de-activating these causes and afterwards replacing them with sustainable measures. The challenge here is to analyse the impact of the solutions identified in the first phase of peacebuilding on the development of the second phase. More precisely, the suspicion is that in order to de-activate key causes of conflict, solutions like identifying and punishing the ‘guilty’ ones may be detrimental for the evolution of these missions towards the aim of establishing a strong state. First stage solutions are prioritised and can potentially harm the liberal project of statebuilding from the start. If this is the case, then perhaps when analysing failures of liberal interventionism, the criteria used is not compatible with the nature of the local elements of discussion. In the context of Kosovo, evaluating the evolution of statebuilding by using liberal lenses is not valid because the local elements are not truly liberal. The ‘standards before status’ that we evaluate have never been liberal per se, so the failure of statebuilding is not a liberal failure. Kosovo is a weak state but not a per se liberal weak state.