Sustainable Returns and the Rights of Communities and their Members
"Members of all communities must be able to participate fully in the economic, political and social life of Kosovo, and must not face threats to their security and well-being based on their ethnicity. All refugees and displaced persons who wish to return to Kosovo must be able to do so in safety and dignity."
The violent events of March have underscored that achieving greater protection and promotion of the rights of all ethnic communities is fundamental to making real progress in relation to sustainable returns and freedom of movement. More than at any other time, moving forward on the implementation of these Standards will require a commitment by Kosovo's majority population, under the leadership of the government, political party leaders and respected members of civil society. PISG efforts at both central and local level to build a "social contract" with smaller communities are, therefore, a first step. Real confidence building, that has a sustainable impact on the future of Kosovo, will also require a broader change in Kosovo's social climate, and requires a systematic approach by the Government to tolerance-building and development of activities that span across communities and encourages communication between them. While the Standards Implementation Plan identifies actions to be undertaken by Kosovo's leaders, meaningful progress in meeting this Standard will, therefore, also require the engagement of the members of all communities in Kosovo. Emphasis must also be placed on securing the rights of existing communities.
The March events dramatically altered the existing realities for advancing the returns process and achieving greater protection of and promotion of the rights of ethnic communities. As a consequence, a reprioritization of the actions within this Implementation Plan was essential. In particular, Kosovo's authorities and governmental structures must become more directly engaged in the protection of community rights, including the right to return, and promoting a legal framework of rights protection. While the SRSG maintains the "reserved" authority to intervene when Kosovo institutions do not act, the PISG, like all governments, is responsible for ensuring that rights of all communities are respected, and for providing adequate remedies when violations occur.
Developing PISG Structures to Promote Rights Protection, including the Right to Return
Central to the tasks of facilitating the return of displaced persons and ensuring respect for the rights of communities and their members is the development of effective central institutions to develop and coordinate the Government's strategy for promoting rights protection. Through the Office of the Prime Minister, the PISG is currently engaged in identifying structures that would most effectively strengthen its capacity in this regard. This strategy must then be effectively communicated to all levels of Government.
Central level efforts must be mirrored at the municipal levels and direct links must be established between them. Mechanisms within municipalities responsible for protection of human and community rights (Municipal Community Offices, Municipal Assembly Communities and Mediation Committees) must have adequate resources and staff in order to function effectively, and must be properly constituted and receive the active support of Municipal Authorities. As a priority, the PISG undertakes to ensure full implementation of Administration Instructions on the working of Mediation and Communities Committees and Additional Deputy Presidents. It is also essential for these Committees and Offices to be more fully integrated into municipal structures of government in order to be best able to represent the needs of community members.
With the setback in the returns program caused by the March violence, the development of municipal returns strategies in each municipality assumes an even greater priority. Municipalities with ongoing or projected returns will also establish and fill Municipal Returns Officer posts and the relevant Directorates will appoint focal points on returns. Municipal Working Groups, including local actors and representatives of the displaced, and municipal departments will provide ongoing support for returns in their municipalities and play a more active role in the implementation of the work of the MWGs. Special attention must be given to participation of affected communities as well as building a more tolerant climate for returns. Returns projects in urban areas involving repossession of property will also be developed and implemented.
Building and Implementing the Legal Framework of Rights Protection
The PISG will accelerate its efforts to develop and implement a legal framework to effectively protect the rights of all communities and their members. Implementation includes training for relevant actors on the use of these protection mechanisms and tools. To this end, the Kosovo Assembly must make every effort to resolve the objections to the Anti-Discrimination Law (ADL) made by Koalition Povratak so that the ADL, consistent with European Union Directives and international standards, is quickly promulgated. Subsidiary legal acts to effectively implement the ADL must be endorsed for promulgation.
The Kosovo Assembly will also endorse for promulgation Equal Opportunity Laws consistent with European Union Directives and international standards and will ensure full implementation of relevant UNMIK Instructions and Directives.
The PISG will eliminate all obstacles to minority employment in both central and municipal levels of government, including discrimination in hiring, so that minority employment is in accordance with specific community representational ranges and will ensure effective tools for recruitment of minority community members, including effective outreach to minority communities.
To supplement implementation of the legal framework of rights protection, the PISG will work to create an environment that provides equal access to social and public services to all communities in Kosovo and ensure that all barriers to equal access are removed. In particular, the PISG will continue to work on the creation of an educational curriculum that respects the differences of all communities in Kosovo.
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