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Unformatted text preview: 2010 World Policy Institute 93 The Balkans Underbelly David L. Phillips prishtina, KosovoFor nearly two years Kosovo, the worlds newest nation, has struggled to be recognized as a sovereign state. On July 22, 2010, the International Court of Justice [ijc] removed uncer- tainty about Kosovos status since its declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008concluding that the declaration did not violate interna- tional law. But Kosovar Albanians knew long before the courts opinion that their freedom from Serbia was, and remains, ir- revocable. They would never stand for the return to Serbian control. Bread, Butter and Business While the ijc opinion was a defining mo- ment, Kosovar Albanians are more focused on bread-and-butter issues, like the coun- trys moribund economy. Legitimacy is not just a legal matterKosovar Albanians want their leaders to focus on state build- ing. Like many post-conflict and post-com- munist nations, Kosovo suffers from crime, corruption and ineffective governance. This is the poorest country in Europe, with an average annual per capita income of only $2,500. Forty-five percent of the country is poor, while some 15 percent of Kosovos citizens live in extreme poverty. Corrup- tion compounds economic problems by corroding Kosovos economic development. According to Transparency Interna- tional, between 13 percent and 22 percent of those surveyed indicated that they had bribed a public official in 2009. A total of 38 percent believe that the judiciary is Kosovos most corrupt institution. Con- tracting and licensing, especially at the local level, is highly politicized. Busi- nesses must navigate a dizzying array of officials, many of whom take care of those who take care of them. David L. Phillips is director of the Program on Peacebuilding and Rights at Columbia Universitys Institute for the Study of Human Rights. As a senior adviser to the U.S. State Department, he worked on Albanian issues and conflict resolution in Southeast Europe. WORLD POLICY JOURNAL FALL 2010 94 Beyond individual rights, the rule of law must regulate economic activity and counter corruption. Its cornerstones in- clude an independent judiciary and pros- ecutors who operate independently from the government. In Kosovo, government loyalists are too often named as prosecutors to important anti-corruption positions. Anti-corruption investigations are used to intimidate or discredit opponents of the government. Dr. Ilir Tolaj, the former per- manent secretary of the Ministry of Health and a prominent government critic, was charged with owing back taxes while far more serious offenders walk free. Watchdog groups report that an increasingly narrow clique of government- related friends and family control the procurement of contracts for ministries....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.
- Fall '11