An outline of the issues facing Kosovo in establishing itself with its rule of law and how this, paired with Serbian nationalismand EU candidacy struggles, hinder its economic and political goals.
The iconic yellow and blue independence monument in Kosovo’s capital, Prishtinë, celebrated the 15 years of independence of the Republic of Kosovo (Republika e Kosovës) this year.
Understanding the importance of the Rule of Law can be complex. As law students, we may think of A.V Dicey or Joseph Raz and view it as another complex principle from literature. In the UK Constitution, the rule of law is highly valued, and citizens can generally rely on the protections it brings. For the citizens of Kosovo however, reality is vastly different.
In essence the rule of law holds that no one is above the law, there are checks on power, the right to freedom of speech and assembly and access to justice. That’snot to say that Kosovo is lacking in the legislation necessary to address many of these issues, but what it does lack is proper implementation.
Kosovo used to be part of Serbia and from 1999 was governed by the UN Interim Administration, until 2008 when it formally declared independence. However, it had been fighting brutal Serbian forces for decades before this, killing over 13,000 Kosovars and foreveraltering the lives of many more. In addition, there are also missing persons who have never been found.
Before this, both countries were part of the former Yugoslavia. Until the death of Josip Broz Tito,Yugoslavia was the most economically prosperous state in the east of Europe, personified in companies such as Zastava Automobili. Being a Yugoslavian meant you had one of the most powerful passports in the worldand almost complete travel freedom. In comparison today, it has only recently been approved by the European Parliament that Kosovar citizens will have visa-free access to the Schengen area from January 2024.
So what is the state of the rule of law in Kosovo today?
Kosovo is a democratic state and according to its constitution, both Albanian and Serbian are official languages. There are more Albanian ethnic groups than Serbians, but the rule of law should mean that everyone is equal, and their rights respected. In reality, Kosovofaces widespread political corruption in a weak rule of law system. Its judiciary is problematic, the media and freedom of expression is controversial and there is much discrimination between its ethnic groups, despite all of which have been dedicated a star on Kosovo’s flag.
The flag of Kosovo, the yellow shows its geographical area and the six stars represent its different ethnic groups, Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Gorani, Roma and Turks.