Max Marcus, UN Women, and Kathy Roberts, CJA, meet with Kosovar Chief Prosecutor Sevdije Morina in Pristina

In partnership with UN Women, CJA is piloting an initiative to support local Kosovar practitioners in the investigation and prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence crimes. Now is a crucial moment, as the Kosovars are gradually taking over jurisdiction from the European Union’s rule-of-law organization known as EULEX.

In 1998, civil war broke out in Kosovo between Serbian forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Following the failure of international efforts to resolve the conflict, on March 23, 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced the commencement of air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), which ended on June 8, 1999 when the FRY agreed to withdraw its forces from Kosovo. On June 9,1999, the International Security Force (KFOR), the FRY and the Republic of Serbia agreed on the withdrawal of all FRY authorities from Kosovo, including military, judicial and police, and the introduction of an international security force. Kosovo was placed under the governmental control of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the military protection of Kosovo Force (KFOR). The 15-month war had left thousands of civilians killed on both sides and over a million displaced.

Since the war, the region has been governed by a complex web of international and local actors. UNMIK operated the civilian justice apparatus until it handed over these operations to EULEX, which the European Union established with a mission that included operation of judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies. After five years of operations, EULEX announced that its mandate would end in 2018 and that all functions of government would be handed over to the local authorities by that date. EULEX began handing over criminal case files to the local prosecutors in January 2016.

You can read more about CJA’s transitional justice initiatives here