The Crisis in Kosova:

A Peace Proposal

By Johan Galtung, Kinhide Mushakoji and Ramon Lopez-Reyes

The more a tyrant is demonized by the other side, the more likely he will then be seen as a hero to his people - a David taking on his Goliath.

The illegal NATO war on Serbia is not conducive to a lasting solution. The only road is through negotiation, not diktat and, pending that, an immediate cessation of the hostilities and atrocities, and agreement on a U.N. peacekeeping operation.

Consider the points made by former Secretary General Perez de Cuellar in correspondence with former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Hans Dietrich Genscher: do not favor any party, develop a plan for all of ex-Yugoslavia, make sure that plans are acceptable to minorities. In this spirit TRANSCEND suggests:

The U.N. should replace NATO and assume peacekeeping in Former Yugoslavia, including Kosova, with contingents from non-NATO countries. The United Nations will mobilize all its agencies, the High Commission for Refugees, the High Commission for Human Rights, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, etc. to provide the minimum needs of the people, to guarantee the safe return of refugees, and to rebuild.

If the Security Council is paralyzed by a veto, this gives the General Assembly and the Secretary General legitimacy to play an active role in negotiating an end of hostilities. The Secretary General could be supported in that role by a group of eminent world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, former German President Richard von Weizsaecker, and Jimmy Carter. Pressure from world public opinion is necessary.

A Conference on Security and Cooperation in Southeast Europe should be organized by the U.N. and the OSCE. The Security Council is too remote, the EU and NATO too partial. All concerned parties (also sub-state, super-state and non-state) should be invited, with all relevant themes on the agenda, lasting three to five years.

Negotiate to establish a Kosovo Zone Of Peace Protectorate, KZOPP, under direct U.N. Trusteeship or under an OSCE mandate. It would consist of an Administrative Office; a Negotiation Task Force consisting mainly of retired diplomats with experience in nonviolent conflict resolution; a Legal Advisory Unit; Reconciliation Teams, deployed throughout the region to promote human rights and peace education; and a Security Group of police and peacekeeping forces to train police forces and maintain security.

The similarity between the Serb position in Krajina/ Slavonija and the Kosovars in Kosova can be used. Both ethnic groups form majorities in those areas but minorities in Croatia and Serbia as a whole, with "mother countries" nearby. Refugees, most of them forced to leave, are brought back, and the Kosovars are accorded the same status within Serbia as the Serbs in Krajina/Slavonija. To draw exact borders, each community can join the side its voters prefer, the process used in 1920 to define the Danish-German border. The possibility of Kosova as a third republic in Serbia, with guarantees against seeking independence for a period of perhaps 20 years, and the same for Krajina/ Slavonija in Croatia, should not be excluded.

A Balkan Community might be considered, including Albania, Yugoslavia, Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey (maybe only the European part). It would allow the Southern Balkan peoples to decide their own fate economically and politically without meddling by outside big powers. It might be accommodate some of the Orthodox/Muslim tensions, working toward such features found in the Nordic and European communities of the 1980s as a common market, free flow of goods and services, capital and labor, coordination of foreign policies.

A dense network of municipal solidarity can be developed with all parts of ex-Yugoslavia, for refugee/relief work and reconstruction, with help from the Council of Europe.

Support local peace groups with communication hardware, present people's ideas to the governments.

Intensify ecumenical peace work, building on Catholic, Orthodox, and Islamic peace traditions. Challenge hard line, sectarian religious institutions in the whole region, not only in Yugoslavia.

In the spirit of reconciliation, drop the sanctions, and have inside and outside specialists search for understanding of what went wrong, and for positive past and present experiences that can inspire a common future, such as a Yugoslav confederation of more and smaller parts, similar to the Swiss cantons, with much internal autonomy. Rather than criminal courts, initiate reconciliation processes.

Johan Galtung, a Professor of Peace Studies at several universities, is Director of TRANSCEND, a Peace and Development Network. Kinhide Mushakoji, a Professor at Ferris University, Yokohama, and Ramon Lopez-Reyes, a Professor in Hawaii, are members of TRANSCEND.

Peace Magazine May-June 1999

Peace Magazine May-June 1999, page 23. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by Johan Galtung here
Search for other articles by Kinhide Mushakoji here
Search for other articles by Ramon Lopez-Reyes here

Peace Magazine homepage