Supervised Independence

Emphasizing that “Kosovo is a unique case that demands a unique solution” the UN special envoy for Kosovo has recommended independence as “the only viable option” for Kosovo, which involves an initial period of supervised independence for Kosovo from Serbia. The recommendation made by Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland to the United Nations is remarkable in the light of the fact that the UN has for so many years been a strong advocate for protecting state territory and state interest. Interesting between 1948 and 1991 the only case of independence recognized by the UN was that of Bangladesh. 

Ahtisaari’s observation that “Upon careful consideration of Kosovo’s recent history, the realities of Kosovo today and taking into account negotiations with the parties, I have come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is independence to be supervised for an initial period by the international community,” is quite remarkable and one that demonstrates political astuteness in addressing deep-rooted identity based conflicts. He states that his recommendation provides “the foundation for future independent Kosovo that is viable, sustainable and stable and in which all communities and their members can live a peaceful and dignified existence.”

Keeping in mind that present trends of political diplomacy and negotiations have largely been state-centered with the intent to ensure the continued status-quo of state national security over human security, the recommendation comes across as quite revolutionary. The point of the matter is that if one is deeply committed to the realization of peace, it is very essential that pragmatic and realistic approaches are made to break out from traditional approaches. This unique recommendation reaffirms the point that it is the denial of self-determination that is the cause of conflict, and hence the restoration of the right to self-determination forms the basis of a negotiated peace.

History has shown that rigid positions and dogmatic approaches to deep rooted conflicts have not just proved futile, but have only threatened possible solutions. Therefore one key implication of Ahtisaari’s recommendation demonstrates the constant presence of possibilities when creative and imaginative ways are derived to resolve conflicting interests. Peace needs foresight and willingness to create and implement alternatives in the midst of violence and division. This proposal reveals that the more important resolution is on how people exercise their independence, and not necessarily the status they arrive at.

Let’s hope that the UN will seriously consider and support Ahtisaari’s proposal. It reflects a very determined commitment to seek all possible ways to achieve peace and to prevent the scourge of war from resurfacing again. It would do well for the UN to seriously consider his proposal and to adequately demonstrate that it genuinely is equally concerned for the well being of not just states, but peoples and nations as well. The response of the French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to Ahtisaari’s proposal is refreshing. His opinion that the proposal “presents a unique opportunity to ensure stability for Kosovo and to the region,” is heartening. 

It would do this world some good to have more courageous and pragmatic diplomats with strong political convictions to pursue peace by creatively finding ‘out-of-the-box solutions.’ Perhaps then, this world would have fewer conflicts to deal with!