Twenty-one years since the end of the 1998-99 war, Kosovo still has to deal with its violent past. After the conflict, many transitional justice initiatives have been undertaken, however these were mostly fragmented and side-by-side initiatives. As such, they have been unsuccessful in moving Kosovan society away from a violent past towards a peaceful future.
Currently, the imminent indictments by the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office bring back memories about the past and spark unrest. Yet, the establishment of a future Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which would have the potential to look comprehensively into the conflict, is not certain. The fragmented nature and disappointment with previous transitional justice efforts contribute to massive distrust within society; both among different communities, as between citizens and government. This situation begs for an overarching national strategy on dealing with the past, in which the voices of citizens are included.
New approach needed
The research report ‘Democratizing Transitional Justice: Towards a Deliberative Infrastructure for Dealing with the Past in Kosovo’ shows that a top-down and/or externally driven approach to transitional justice has not been helpful and suggests an integrated four-step approach;
- Generating a citizen-informed national understanding on the principles and ethics for dealing with the past and transitional justice in Kosovo;
- Developing an integrated knowledge base and repository of existing sector specific strategies, initiatives, and mechanisms for transitional justice in Kosovo:
- Developing a bottom-up and victims-centred national strategy; and
- Designing an integrated institutional infrastructure for dealing with the past.
This ‘Infrastructure for Dealing with the Past’ empowers the victims’ community, promotes local ownership and democratizes how strategies and Transitional Justice actions are implemented.