The OSCE Mission in Kosovo was established by the OSCE Permanent Council on 1 July 1999. The Mission is responsible for institution- and democracy-building, and the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.
In 1992, the then Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE, now OSCE) deployed the first Missions to Kosovo, Sandzak and Vojvodina in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Their mandate was not renewed the following year.
From October 1998 to March 1999, the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), the largest and most challenging OSCE operation up to that date, was deployed to verify the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1160 and 1199. The purpose of the KVM was to verify the ceasefire, monitor movement of forces, and promote human rights and democracy-building. When the security situation deteriorated in Kosovo in March 1999, the KVM was withdrawn. It ceased to exist on 9 June when the Permanent Council established a transitional OSCE Task Force for Kosovo.
The current Mission in Kosovo was set up in July 1999.
Referring to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999, the OSCE Permanent Council, in its Decision No. 305, determined that the OSCE Mission in Kosovo would, within the overall framework of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), "take the lead role in matters relating to institution- and democracy-building and human rights and rule of law."
The Mission has three main fields of activity:
To help further develop institutions in Kosovo and ensure their adherence to human rights and good governance standards, the Mission has a proactive monitoring policy that includes monitoring, analyzing, reporting and recommending remedial action for observed shortcomings. When necessary, the Mission provides further training and advice to the institutions.
The structure of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo is based on a senior management group consisting of the head of Mission, deputy head of Mission, the directors of the three programmatic departments (human rights and communities, democratization, and security and public safety) and the director of the administration department.
The head and deputy head of Mission are supported by a department which includes a press and public information office, a legal affairs office, a political affairs office, a central co-ordination office, a Mission auditor and a security and safety office.
Since October 2012, Ambassador Jean-Claude Schlumberger of France is Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. Ambassador Schlumberger also serves as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Mission Headquarters is located in Prishtinë/Pristina. The Mission has a strong field presence with five regional centres and over 30 field teams, which allows it to effectively cover municipalities throughout Kosovo and to engage with all communities in Kosovo.
The Mission in Kosovo represented a new step for the OSCE in fostering co-operation with other international organizations. In 1999, for the first time, the OSCE became an integral part of an operation led by the United Nations. In the context of UNMIK's reconfiguration and substantial downsizing of its field presence in 2009, the Mission took on an increased monitoring role, in particular with regard to early warning and reporting.
The OSCE also co-operates closely with its other major partners, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe and the European Union. This involves both working together on specific projects and mutual support in terms of logistics and access to office facilities. In addition, the Mission co-operates closely with international non-governmental organizations to promote a stronger role for civil society in Kosovo.
The Mission also maintains close links with the Kosovo Force (KFOR), the NATO-led peacekeeping force.
Further information on mandates, staffing levels and budgets can be found in the annual Survey of OSCE Field Operations.