Manual for Sustainable Return
The need to produce a document to clarify procedures and activities related to returns arose during 2002 return season, when a number of actors involved in the emerging processes faced specific questions related to the implementation of return projects. In May 2002 UNMIK formulated its return policy with the concept paper The Right to Sustainable Return. It became rapidly clear that the policy needed to be supplemented with a document which could serve as a practical guide as to how to apply the principles laid out in the concept paper. It also emerged that a comprehensive framework which could not only lay out procedures for implementing principles but also enhance and formalise coordination efforts which had already emerged was needed. A demand arose from a variety of actors already engaged in the process to produce a document which could:
(1) formalise coordination among actors by defining roles and responsibilities,
(2) establish decision-making procedures in existing coordination bodies and
(3) propose a standard process in which the relevant return projects would be developed and funded.
The Manual for Sustainable Return has been developed with the demand from the field workers in mind. It aims to shed light on the returns landscape further by providing detailed guidance on the roles of the Municipal and Regional Working Groups on Returns. It therefore targets a vast audience, not only the international bodies represented in Working Groups but also the PISG, Kosovo's neighbouring territories authorities, IDPs/Refugees and the donor community.
The Manual remains a modest attempt to address questions arising and needing clarification. It is intended to be used as a guide based on best practices which have facilitated the most sustainable results for minority returns. The Manual will remain a living document, subject to periodic revision, assessment and improvement.
The Manual intends to be a guide rather than a prescription, and as such allows for flexibility and indeed encourages implementing structures to reflect local circumstances and adapt guidance as circumstances evolve. It is developed in a flexible manner to account for Kosovo's regional specificities. Problems encountered in the guidance provided and recommendations for improvement will be considered in future revisions.
The procedures outlined below for the returns process have been designed to be flexible to respond to the unpredictable environment in which the returns process takes place. To simplify the presentation of the procedures, one understood that these would apply to "facilitated" returns of groups of IDPs/refugees and to the presentation of returns projects' lists to donors to respond to identified needs of the potential returns, for which funding is being sought. However, the very nature of spontaneous individual returns, which to date represent a majority of the overall returns, may require a more accelerated response. The chapter called "The Spectrum of Returns" below addresses this situation. Furthermore, donor-funding cycles differ, and may not coincide with the procedures outlined below. Often, a donor will approach an NGO with a request for concept papers and/or proposals that they could fund. In many of these cases, there is a time constraint, and NGOs must react quickly to secure funding. Hence, MWGs should expect that concept papers could be submitted for MWG endorsement throughout the year, and that an immediate endorsement procedures must take place. The Operational Guidelines outline the streamlined approach to be used in these circumstances.