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Remarks at the Kosovo Donors Coordination Conf.

Remarks at the Kosovo Donors Coordination Conference

James F. Dobbins, Special Advisor to the President and the Secretary of State for Kosovo and Dayton Implementation Remarks at the Kosovo Donors Coordination Conference, Brussels, Belgium, July 28, 1999

I want to first extend my thanks to Christian Poortman of the World Bank and Fabrizio Barbaso of the European Commission for organizing this Conference and, more importantly, for willingly taking on key leadership roles in the reconstruction and recovery of Kosovo. The United Nations will draw heavily on this and other assistance as it manages its mandate to restore stability to this tortured part of the Balkans.

That stability will depend in large measure on creating prosperity in Kosovo, prosperity which will not come quickly or easily. Achieving this stability will require a concerted effort on the part of the people of Kosovo - and their rapid return home is a welcome sign of their commitment. We, as donors, will have to provide generous and well-coordinated assistance to enable all Kosovars to direct their energies to rebuilding their lives.

Our task here today is to kick-start that rebuilding. We need to pledge the necessary resources, divide the tasks, and organize and coordinate our work, and translate our good intentions into action on the ground in Kosovo. Much has already been accomplished in the past two months but we cannot lose the sense of urgency or compassion which has brought us here.

Today's conference rightfully addresses urgent needs for humanitarian support and immediate recovery. Unless basic human needs are met between now and winter for the over one million returning refugees and internally displaced persons, we cannot expect to lay the groundwork for social stability or a self- sustaining economy.

I would like to express my appreciation for the central role the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has played and will continue to play in this regard. The UNHCR has confronted mammoth tasks since early last year, first in receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kosovo in the regional states, and then in assisting their return to Kosovo, all within a very short time span. We must support and strengthen the coordination role of the UNHCR by providing on a timely basis the necessary financial support and making certain that our bilateral grants to humanitarian NGOs are made in coordination with UNHCR. These NGOs are equally deserving of our thanks for stepping up to the challenge of helping to manage this unprecedented refugee crisis and for returning rapidly to Kosovo to support the rebuilding effort.

The U.S. is prepared to do its fair share. Subject to a clear assessment of the need, and confirmation that other donors will do their part, the United States will provide up to $500 million in cash and commodities to provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to address the immediate, continuing needs of Kosovars. This contribution will be used to provide emergency shelter, winterization supplies, food aid, health care, clean water and agricultural assistance. It will also provide for the clearance of land mines and unexploded ordnance. These funds will largely be channeled through international organizations and NGOs.

We have just begun to provide some of this new assistance, including a $40 million contribution to UNHCR's appeal last week, as well as the introduction of a Kosovo Women's initiative. The Women's Initiative, which the UNHCR has agreed to implement, will provide trauma counseling, judicial assistance, and other services to women who have been victims of atrocities. Such psycho-social assistance represents a critical need in Kosovo, and we expect that other donors will join us in aggressively supporting similar initiatives.

I would be remiss if I did not also single out the efforts of Kosovo's neighbors - particularly those of Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro - for the enormous service extended to refugees seeking shelter from brutal ethnic cleansing. This hospitality was given, in many cases, at the cost of extreme strain to their economies, economies already severely disrupted by the conflict.

The international community should not overlook the costs borne by neighboring states. For its part, the United States is providing $150 million to help compensate for the negative financial impact suffered by these states due to the war and refugee crisis. We will continue to meet the needs of any remaining refugees as well for those communities and individuals that have welcomed them. We should also help these neighboring states by instituting procurement procedures as donors and through our implementing partners that ensure timely and effective opportunities for regional firms to compete for reconstruction work. Our assistance should be untied for this purpose.

Assistance is needed not only to meet the needs of the day, but also to help rebuild the social order. UNSCR 1244 calls for the establishment of "substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo." To achieve the goals of a sound market economy, democratic governance, and a just and stable social order, the United States encourages the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to draw upon the full authority at his disposal to carry out the will of the international community. It is up to all of us to cooperate for maximum advantage in this tremendous undertaking. Many nations and organizations are involved, and the Secretary-General has designed a program and a structure that bring together many international organizations to play key roles in their areas of expertise. We strongly support this integrated approach with a clear chain of command under the SRSG.

The U.S. commends the work of Interim Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, in getting this important undertaking started and through the first difficult weeks. We look forward to close and productive cooperation with his successor, Bernard Kouchner, in the unprecedented challenges that the United Nations has been asked to assume in Kosovo.

For the moment, much of the burden rests with KFOR, which has performed magnificently under the command of General Sir Mike Jackson. The UN is making steady progress in deploying civil administrators, civilian police and judicial authorities to the field. But we aren't there yet.

To get where we need to be, the international community must offer the Special Representative our unstinting support in a number of ways. We need to respond to the UN's appeal for highly capable and experienced civil administrators in many fields. No need is more critical than support for police and the judicial systems to ensure the rule of law and the administration of justice. Towards this end the U.S. will provide an initial sum of $41 million. We have offered a substantial contingent of 450 civilian police officers for the UN international police. We are making a comparably large contribution to the process of police training and the establishment of a police training academy under the OSCE. We commend those states that have already pledged police, and urge others likewise to commit well-qualified officers for this task.

As donors we also need to provide interim funding to help cover recurrent costs for essential basic services and for civil administration. We view this as an exceptional step to provide bridge support while the fiscal system is developed, as it must be. It is encouraging to hear that already the UN, with the help of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, has drawn up a provisional budget and a plan to partially fund that budget through the early establishment of a customs administration to collect customs and excise taxes. The U.S. will make an initial contribution of $4 million for the purpose of interim funding.

Terrible crimes have been and continue to be committed in Kosovo. Support for the establishment of a functioning police and judicial system is necessary to ensure that such crimes do not go unpunished. Senior officers and officials responsible for ordering and implementing war crimes and crimes against humanity need to be dealt with by the International Criminal Tribunal. To meet these urgent needs, the U.S. is providing over $20 million for war crimes related assistance so that individuals at all levels responsible for these acts face justice. We call upon other donors to step forward as well, to deter a repeat of such gross human rights violations.

In closing, let me just say that the international community has unquestionably done the right thing in using measured force to put an end to brutal ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. And we are doing the right thing by cementing that peace in yet another area of the Balkans struck by senseless nationalism. The international community must summon the resources and energy to stay engaged in this part of the world until all its people enjoy the peace, prosperity and freedom which most of us in this room take for granted. This Conference, and the meeting of dozens of heads of state two days hence in Sarajevo, are tangible evidence of the international resolve to do just that.

ENDS


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