Explaining and Evaluating the UNMIK Court System
New England Law | Boston
United Nations - United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)
January 28, 2003
This chapter describes the nature and composition of the Kosovo court system, providing an overview of the legal framework within which it operates and highlighting the features that make it unique. It also evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of this form of internationalized court, both in design and execution, focusing primarily on the effectiveness of introducing international judges and prosecutors into the system.
Assuming the relevant criteria are legal basis, personnel composition, subject matter jurisdiction, and function, the Kosovo courts in which international judges sit may properly be considered hybrid or internationalized courts. The legal basis of these courts may be found in UNMIK Regulations qua domestic legislation; however, the authority of these Regulations is derived from UN Security Council Resolution 1244, an international legal instrument. The courts are staffed by a mix of Kosovan and international officials and apply both national and international law. While generally situated as domestic courts, they also perform a function peculiar to international courts – removing sensitive cases and those involving application of international norms from the exclusive province of domestic judges, who may lack the necessary objectivity and expertise.
Whether the system established in Kosovo can be deemed a success depends largely on the criteria used in conducting such an evaluation. Although international human rights law was made directly applicable, the courts lack the resources and the capacity necessary to apply it. The international judges have failed to increase that capacity in any meaningful way. While their participation has lent an air of neutrality in relation to the tensions among Kosovo’s different ethnic groups, the international judges have not achieved sufficient independence from the UNMIK executive.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: Kosovo, UNMIK, UNMIK court system, hybrid courts, internationalized courtsworking papers series
Date posted: July 23, 2010
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