All individuals in the Republic of Kosovo are equally entitled to protection of their fundamental human rights. These include, for example, a general protection against discrimination, an inherent right to life, freedom of expression and assembly, and many more.
However, members of minority communities in Kosovo might not be able to enjoy these fundamental rights in the same way as the majority population. Therefore, communities require additional rights to level the playing field. This second layer of protection for communities ensures that their members can take full advantage of their fundamental rights.
Community rights in Kosovo are guaranteed in a range of primary and secondary legislation, notably, the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo and the overarching Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Communities and their Members in Kosovo (03/L-047), hereafter the Law on Communities, both of which cover community rights in broad terms. In addition, specialised laws have been passed to deal with particular issues at a more detailed level, notably, the Law on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo (03/L-068), the Law on the Use of Languages (02/L37), the Law on Local Self-government (03/L-040), the Cultural Heritage Law (02/L-88) and the Law on Special Protective Zones (03/L-039).
This section of the website aims to provide a clear and thorough overview of the legal rights of communities and their members. Rights are presented on an issue-by-issue basis, highlighting the most important provisions.
All people in Kosovo are guaranteed state protection from discrimination. Where such discrimination prevents community members from enjoying their fundamental rights, the state must take special measures to redress this.
Prohibited Grounds of DiscriminationDiscrimination is prohibited on a number of grounds. Of particular relevance to communities are those of national, ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity.
Direct and Indirect Discrimination
Discrimination includes both direct and indirect discrimination.
- Direct discrimination occurs where one person is treated less favourably than another in a comparable situation.
- Indirect discrimination occurs where a seemingly neutral provision or practice actually disadvantages a particular group of people due to their national, ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity. 2
If you are subject to threats or acts of discrimination including intimidation, hostility or violence as a result of membership of, or association with, a particular community, the state is obliged to take all necessary measures to protect you 3 . Similarly, if you are unable to exercise your fundamental rights for the same reasons, the state must take special measures to remedy this.
[Note that these measures are not themselves considered to be discriminatory, but should only be applied until their purpose has been fulfilled. 4 ]
1Law on Communities, Article 3.3. It should be noted that the general prohibition against discrimination contained in the Anti-discrimination Law 2004 lists other grounds such as gender, etc (Article 2.a).
2Law on Communities, Article 3.3; Anti-discrimination Law, Article 2.a, 3.a, 3.b.
3Law on Communities, Article 3.2.
4Law on Communities, Articles 3.3, 1.2.
Security and Freedom of Movement
As a member of a community, you are guaranteed both freedom of movement, and safety and security throughout the country. The state is obliged to protect these rights on your behalf.
1 This is in addition to your rights as a citizen/legal resident of Kosovo to free choice of your location of residence. 2
1Law on Communities, Article 3.5.
2Constitution, Articles 29.1, 35.
This section focuses on broad identity rights, such as the right to voluntarily associate yourself with a particular community, and the prohibition of forced assimilation.
Right of voluntary association
If you belong to a community, you are free to choose whether or not to be treated as a member of that community, and whether or not to exercise your community rights. Any disadvantage or discrimination you face as a result of that choice is illegal. 1
Prohibition of forced assimilation
If you are a member of a community, you cannot be subjected to policies or practices that try to assimilate you against your will. 2 If this occurs, you are entitled to state protection.
1Law on Communities, Article 1.5.
2Law on Communities, Article 2.3.
Culture and Religion
Community rights in Kosovo place a lot of emphasis on the right to protect and promote community culture, and on assurances of religious freedom. These are listed in more detail in sections 1 and 2 below.
Of great importance to many communities in Kosovo is the protection of their religious and cultural heritage. These rights are listed in section 4. In this context, the Serb Community benefits from a particular set of rights.
If you are a member of a community in Kosovo, you have the constitutional right to express, maintain and develop your culture and traditions. You also have the right to administer your own cultural affairs. 1 The state is under an obligation to create the conditions for you and your community to achieve this. 2
Community representative organisations and associations
As a community, you have the right to establish community representative organisations. These are encouraged to help manage the resources made available for the advancement of community cultural life. 3 However, their main function is to act as umbrella organisations for your community, and to represent it to the Community Consultative Council (CCC). 4
The CCC, located within the Office of the President, was established by Presidential Decree on the 15 September 2008. It includes representatives from all the communities in Kosovo, organised through the umbrella community representative organisations described above, as well as Government representatives. It is designed to facilitate the political participation of communities at the central level by acting as a mechanism for regular exchange between the communities and the Government. It also aims to provide communities with an opportunity to comment on laws and policy initiatives at an early stage.
You and your community also have the right to establish citizens associations for culture, art, science and education and other associations. 5 These must comply with a code of conduct regarding representativeness, democratic functioning, efficiency and financial transparency, which should be adopted by your representative organisation through the CCC. 6
Note that community organisations or associations are eligible for support and financial assistance, including from the Government. 7
Your community, and your representative community organisation, have the right to use and display your own symbols. 8
As a member of a community, both you and your representative organisations have the right to maintain contacts with people either in Kosovo or in another state on the basis of common ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic identity, or cultural heritage. 9
The Republic of Kosovo is a secular state, has no official religion, and is neutral on questions of religious beliefs. 10
As with all people in Kosovo, you are entitled to freedom of belief, conscience and religion are guaranteed for all persons in Kosovo. 11 This includes the freedom to have, not to have, to retain or to change religion or belief. It also includes the freedom to manifest your religion or beliefs (in worship, teaching, practice and observance), either alone or in community with others, in public or in private. 12
Both you and your community are entitled to religious freedom. The state is not only expressly prevented from interfering with this right 13, but is obliged to protect the practice of religious rights, traditional forms of religious life, including monastic life, and religious education, along with religious property. 14
You and your community have the right to establish community religious organizations and institutions. 15
Traditional and religious holidays
You and your community have the right to celebrate your traditional and religious holidays freely and publicly, in accordance with the law. 16
Religious and cultural heritage
The Republic of Kosovo is under a legal obligation to preserve the cultural and religious heritage of all communities. If your community believes certain sites or monuments to be of cultural and religious significance, the state is obliged to protect them.
The Government can delegate the task of maintaining such sites to your community organisation, providing that organisation is both willing and capable. Funding may be provided for this purpose. 17
Serbian Orthodox Church
If you are a member if the Serb Community in Kosovo, you and your community are entitled to additional protection of your religious, historical and cultural sites, notably the Serbian Orthodox Monasteries. 18
Special Protective Zones (SPZ) have been established around monuments, groups of buildings, villages or historic town centres of special significance to the Serb Community. If an area has been designated a SPZ, it is safeguarded from any development or activity which could damage its historical, cultural, architectural or archaeological context, natural environment or aesthetic setting. 19
This process is monitored and facilitated by an Implementation and Monitoring Council (IaMC). If a dispute arises between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Kosovo central or local authorities, the IaMC can mediate between the two. 20
1Constitution, Article 59.1; Law on Communities, Article 5.1.
2Law on Communities, Article 2.2.
3Law on Communities, Article 11.5.
4Law on Communities, Article 5.3.
5Law on Communities, Article 5.2.
6Law on Communities, Article 5.3.
7Law on Communities, Article 5.4.
8Law on Communities, Article 5.6.
9Law on Communities, Article 5.7.
10Constitution, Article 8; Law on Communities, Article 7.1.
11Constitution, Article 38.1 ; Law on Communities, Article 7.2.
12Law on Communities, Article 7.2.
13Law on Communities, Article 7.3.
14Law on Communities, Article 7.4.
15Law on Communities, Article 7.7.
16Law on Communities, Article 5.5.
17Law on Communities, Article 5.12.
18Law on Communities, Article 7.6; Law on the Establishment of Special Protective Zones, Article 1.
19Law on the Establishment of Special Protective Zones, Article 2.
20Law on the Establishment of Special Protective Zones, Article 4.
The issue of language is absolutely central to the protection and promotion of community rights in Kosovo, as it impacts on many other areas of particular importance for communities, such as education, political participation, media, and equal access to employment opportunities, among others.
This section will examine provisions relating to the use of languages in the public sphere, both at the central and municipal levels; in public services; within the justice system; and in the private sphere. The issue of language in the context of education and the media will be dealt with separately below, in sections G and H respectively.
Use of languages at the state level
a.Official languages of the Republic of Kosovo
The official languages of the Republic of Kosovo are Albanian and Serbian, along with their respective alphabets.
Every person in Kosovo has the right to communicate with the central institutions, and to receive available services and public documents, in either of these official languages. All central institutions must ensure that this is possible.
Meetings and work of the central institutions
In the central institutions, the official languages of Kosovo enjoy equal status.
All laws adopted by the Assembly of Kosovo must be issued and published in the official languages. Each version bears equal authority. All promulgated laws (laws that have been formally proclaimed) must also be published in the Bosnian and Turkish languages.
Official records and documents must be kept and issued in the official languages.
If you are an officer or an employee in any of the central institutions, you have the right to use either of the official languages in your work. This right must be accommodated by the institution, notably in their debates, proceedings and meetings, as well as any public meetings they organise. At your request, the institution must make interpretation available in all meetings from one official language into another.
If your mother tongue is not one of the official languages of Kosovo, special provisions apply to you in the context of the central institutions:
- Government. If you are a member of the Government and your mother tongue is not one of the official languages, you have the right to use your mother tongue in the meetings of the central institutions, as well as in any public meetings they organise. At your request, the central institutions must provide interpretation.
- Assembly of Kosovo. If you are an Assembly member and your mother tongue is not an official language, you have the right to use your mother tongue in the work, debates or other proceedings of the Assembly and its Committees, as well as in any public meetings it organises. At your request, facilities will be made available to ensure interpretation from and into your mother tongue. Any document you submit in your mother tongue must be translated into the official languages, and all responses must be made to you in your mother tongue.
- Ombudsperson. If your mother tongue is not one of the official languages of Kosovo and you wish to lodge a complaint with the office of the Ombudsperson, you have the right to present your oral or written submissions to the Ombudsperson in your mother tongue. You are also entitled to receive a reply in your mother tongue. For more details on submitting a complaint to the Ombudsperson, see section III.A below.
Use of languages at the municipal level
As noted above, the Albanian and Serbian languages enjoy official status throughout Kosovo and at all levels of government. However, other community languages can also be elevated to the status of official languages at the municipal level, providing certain demographic conditions are fulfilled.
Languages with official status at the municipal level
If you are a member of a community whose language is not an official language, and your community constitutes at least 5% of the municipal population, your language can be accorded the status of an official language at the municipal level.
[There is one notable exception to this rule: if you are a member of the Turkish Community, your language is accorded official status in Prizren Municipality regardless of demographic factors. ]
Languages in official use at the municipal level
If you are a member of a community whose language is not an official language, and your community constitutes between 3% and 5% of the municipal population, your language can become a language in official use at the municipal level.
In addition, if your communitys language has traditionally been spoken in a municipality, it will also be considered a language in official use within that municipality.
Meetings and work of the municipal institutions
Official languages at the municipal level
In municipal institutions, the official languages of the municipality enjoy equal status. Note that official languages here refers to both the Albanian and Serbian languages, and any other community language which is elevated to official status at the municipal level (see section II.F.2.a above).
If your community language enjoys official status at the municipal level, you have the right to communicate with municipal institutions and officials in that language. This includes the right to receive available services and public documents in that language. Every municipal representative and executive body has a duty to ensure that this is possible.
All official municipal languages are accorded equal status in the meetings and work of the municipal institutions. At your request, municipal institutions must make interpretation available from one official language into another for municipal meetings, as well as for public meetings organised by the municipality.
Regulations and subsidiary acts must be printed and published in the official languages of the municipality. All versions are equally authoritative.
Official documents must be kept and issued in all official languages of the municipality. These include records of meetings, the official records of municipal representative and executive bodies, public registers and so on.
The official names of municipal institutions and organs must be displayed in the official languages of the municipality, as must official signs indicating the names of municipalities, villages, roads, streets and other public places.
Languages in official use at the municipal level
If your community language is a language in official use at the municipal level (see section II.F.2.b above), you have the right to present municipal institutions and officials with oral or written submissions and documents in that language. At your request, the institutions must reply in that language. Similarly, at your request, the municipal representative and/or executive body must ensure that municipal regulations and subsidiary acts are issued and published in that language.
Use of languages in public services
In enterprises performing public services, the official languages of Kosovo enjoy equal status.
You have the right to communicate with enterprises performing public services in any of the official languages of Kosovo, including official municipal languages and languages in official use in a given municipality. This extends to services and documents received from such enterprises. Every such enterprise has a duty to ensure that this is possible.
Use of languages in the justice system
If you are arrested or charged with a criminal offence, you have the right to be informed promptly and in a language you understand of the reasons for your arrest and of any charges brought against you. If you are a member of a community whose mother tongue is not one of the official languages, that language will be your mother tongue.
Use of official languages
Official languages must be used on an equal basis in judicial proceedings.
If you are participating in a criminal procedure, the authorities involved (courts, prosecution bodies, etc) must ensure that you can use the official language of your choice. You can also request that the proceedings be simultaneously interpreted from one official language into another.
Use of other languages
If you are participating in judicial proceedings and do not speak and understand the language(s) being used, you have the right to use your own language. If you belong to a community whose mother tongue is not one of the official languages, that language will be your mother tongue. This right extends, in particular, to the right to make submissions, testify and hear the facts of the case and any evidence. To this end, the judicial authorities involved are obliged to provide an interpreter free of charge.
Courts must issue documents related to proceedings in the official language(s) chosen for the proceedings. However, if you are a party to the proceedings you can also request that the documents be issued in other official languages.
Penal and detention institutions should ensure that their staff speak the language(s) spoken or understood by the greatest number of the incarcerated.
If you are incarcerated, and you can show that there is a need, you have a right to be provided with interpretation into a language you understand.
Your name and surname must be entered into official documents (public registers, personal identification, etc) in the official language of your choice. Any such entry must be in the script, and in accordance with the tradition and linguistic system of your chosen language. The form you choose must be used by public officials.
Use of languages in the private sphere
In private enterprises, private institutions, association or organisations, or in self-employed activities, you have the right to employ the language(s) of your choice.
However, where that language is not an official language and the activities in question affect legitimate public interests (public order, public safety, health or the rights of other persons) the Kosovo institutions will require that you also use one of the official languages.
An open and independent media is of central importance to any democratic and diverse society. The importance of information and its accessibility to a wide audience is vital for the related rights of freedom of expression and political participation.
The media rights of communities in Kosovo are primarily concerned with state obligations in public broadcasting, which seeks to mainstream communities perspectives within domestic news broadcasting, and special provisions for Serbian-language television.
As a member of a community, you and your community are guaranteed access to information without discrimination. 1 You are entitled to create and use your own language media. 2 This includes daily newspapers and wire services. You are also entitled to a reserved number of frequencies for electronic media. You are also guaranteed free reception of cross-border broadcasts, whether direct or by means of transmission or re-broadcasting. 3
However, note that all these rights are subject to regulations prohibiting incitement or spreading of racial, ethnic or religious hatred or intolerance. 4
Public broadcast media
All communities in Kosovo are entitled to equitable representation in public broadcast media, and are allocated time for community programming on public broadcasting channels. 5 Specifically, Radio Television of Kosovo, the public broadcasting institution, must dedicate no less than 10% of its programming budget and no less than 15% of its program time including prime-time news coverage to non-majority communities on a proportionate basis. These broadcasts must be in the respective community languages. 6 Communities and their members are to have a leading role in generating and presenting such programs. 7
Public broadcasting policy in Kosovo is designed to promote local media production, as well as a diverse range of quality broadcasting services. It is also to encourage the widest possible geographic distribution, with the aim of serving all communities in Kosovo. The allocation of broadcasting frequencies must take account of community needs and market capacity, and all programming must reflect the equality of citizens and communities. 8
The Independent Media Commission (IMC) is a politically neutral body responsible for implementing this policy. It is composed of three separate bodies:
- the Council,
- the Office of the Executive Chief, and
- the Media Appeals Board.
The composition of the Council is relevant to communities. Five (5) of the Councils seven (7) members must be residents of Kosovo (civil society members), and must respect representation of ethnic communities in Kosovo.
9 One (1) resident member is appointed by the Assembly of Kosovo, while the other four (4) are nominated by individuals and organizations with legal residence in Kosovo. These include, for example,
- Registered journalist associations,
- Broadcasting associations,
- Non-governmental organizations involved with the media, protection of freedom of speech and human rights,
- Representatives from academic circles
- Representative from the legal community, and
- Any others of relevance.
If you wish to lodge a complaint with in the IMC, please follow the procedure laid out in section III.D.4 below.
If you are a member of the Kosovo Serb Community, the Government is under an obligation to take all measures within its powers to secure an international frequency plan that will provide your community with access to a licensed, independent, Kosovo-wide, Serbian-language television channel, to operate effectively and without discrimination. 10
1 Law on Communities, Article 6.1.
2 Law on Communities, Article 6.1.
3 Law on Communities, Article 6.6.
4 Law on Communities, Article 6.8.
5 Law on Communities, Article 6.2.
6 Law on Radio Television of Kosovo, Article 6.6.
7 Law on Communities, Article 6.3.
8 Law on the Independent Media Commission and Broadcasting, Articles 3.3, 8.5.
9 Law on Communities, Article 6.7.
10 Law on Communities, Article 6.5.
Education is crucially important to communities in Kosovo, not only because it constitutes the primary source of ideas and knowledge for a new generation, but because it has huge practical implications for equal access to employment and social opportunities.
In addition to provisions relating to the national curriculum, community education rights in Kosovo are inextricably tied up with language rights, and notably with the language of instruction.
The national educational curriculum of Kosovo must cover the history, culture and other attributes of communities traditionally present in the country, with the aim of fostering a spirit of respect, understanding and tolerance among all communities in Kosovo. 1 In line with this aim, the stated goal of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is a unified education system in Kosovo which respects the differences in language, culture, history, art and traditions through which national identity is cultivated. 2 To ensure maximum community input, it was declared that the national curriculum of Kosovo would be developed in consultation with community representative organizations. 3
Although the community representative organizations have yet to be established, the MEST has developed a strategic plan for pre-university education, spanning from 2007 to 2017, which is designed to present communities with the opportunity to participate in the reform and development of the Kosovo education system. To date, the Bosnian, Turkish and Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities have formed expert groups to assist in the drafting of programs for national courses in native language, history, music, arts and culture. These groups have also cooperated and participated in developing teaching programs.
It should be noted, however, that the Serb community has been reluctant to participate in the development and drafting of new teaching programs, and has continued to work within the framework of the education program of the education programme of the republic of Serbia. Special provisions apply for schools teaching in the Serbian language (see section II.H.2.a.i below).
Language of instruction
As noted above, the education rights of communities are closely linked to language rights. For while the right to basic free education is universal throughout Kosovo 4, if you belong to a community whose mother tongue is not a national language of instruction you will not be able to take full advantage of this fundamental right. This would constitute indirect discrimination, as described in section II.B.2 above.
A great effort has been made, therefore, to ensure that all students have access to education in their mother tongue at pre-school, primary and secondary school levels. Furthermore, all students who are educated in a language that is not one of the official languages of Kosovo are obliged to learn an official language of Kosovo, so that they have equal opportunity to progress to higher education.
Right to education in one of the official languages of Kosovo
At all levels of education you have the right to choose, and to choose for your children, your preferred official language of instruction. 5
If you are a pupil, you can decide, together with your parents, in which official language your school records are to be kept. 6
Teaching in the Serbian language
There are special provisions for teaching in the Serbian language, and municipalities are permitted to create the conditions for providing such education. 7 In doing so, they are also entitled to cooperate with municipalities and institutions in the Republic of Serbia, including government agencies. 8
Schools that teach in the Serbian language can apply the curricula or use the textbooks developed by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia. 9 For guidance on how to do this, refer to section III.D.2 below.
Enhanced competencies in higher education
The municipality of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica North has enhanced competencies in the area of higher education, and the University of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica North is declared an autonomous public institution of higher learning in the Serbian language. 10
The municipality of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica North exercises responsibility for the university. 11 It must ensure that it receives adequate premises and funding for its operations from the Kosovo budget and other institutional sources. The university may also receive funding from the Government of the Republic of Serbia, provided this is transparent, public, and in accordance with the laws of Kosovo. 12
Education in community languages that are not an official language
Pre-school, primary and secondary public education
If you are a member of a community whose language is not an official language, you are entitled to pre-school, primary and secondary public education in your mother tongue. 13 However, at these primary and secondary schools, you must also study an official language of your choice. 14 If you are receiving education in a community language that is not an official language, you are entitled to have your reports and certificates issued, and your records kept, in your mother tongue. 15
These community language classes or schools are to be established according to reasonable and viable thresholds, as determined by the Government . However, where these thresholds are not met, the Government has an obligation to offer alternatives. These include:
Subsidized transport to an area where such schooling is being offered,
Roving teaching arrangements, or
Offers of boarding. 16
Where education occurs in a community language that is not an official language, the Government is responsible for establishing integrated curricula, and for monitoring and enforcing the quality of education delivered. 17
Establishments providing education in a community language that is not an official language can design their own school programs. However, these must comply with the integrated curriculum established by the Government and must meet its stated standards of achievement. Similarly, communities are entitled to generate educational modules concerning their own culture, history and traditions, in cooperation with the Government. 18
The Government is responsible for ensuring that sufficient qualified personnel are available. Teacher training must be conducted in the relevant languages for those seeking to teach in community language schools. 19
The Government must ensure that heads and teachers of public educational institutions operating in community languages are mainly representatives of such communities and are fully familiar with their identity. 20
Higher education and training
Members of communities are guaranteed equal access to higher education by the Government, which is under an obligation to establish special measures to ensure the admission of candidates from community schools to higher and university educational institutions . 22
Private educational and training facilities in community languages
If you are a member of a community, you and your community have the right to establish and manage your own private educational and training establishments, for which you may be granted public financial assistance.
Such establishments can apply for accreditation by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), providing they comply with the general educational standards of the Kosovo general curriculum. The MEST is then responsible for monitoring the quality of education delivered. 23
1Law on Communities, Article 8.12.
2Kosovo Ministry of Science, Education and Technology (MEST), Education and the Integration of Communities, official website of the MEST, available at http://www.masht-gov.net/advCms/#id=106 (accessed 1 July 2009).
3Law on Communities, Article 8.12.
4Constitution, Article 47.
5Law on Communities, Article 8.1; Law on the Use of Languages, Article 19.2.
6Law on the Use of Languages, Article 24.1.
7Law on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo, Article 12.1.
8Law on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo, Article 4.3.
9Law on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo, Article 12.4.
10Law on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo, Article 14.
11Law on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo, Articles 14.d.
12Law on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo, Articles 14.e.
13Law on Communities, Article 8.1; Law on the Use of Languages, Article 20.1.
14Law on Communities, Article 8.10; Law on the Use of Languages, Article 21.
15Law on the Use of Languages, Article 24.3.
16Law on Communities, Article 8.2
17Law on Communities, Article 8.7.
18Law on Communities, Article 8.7.
19Law on Communities, Article 8.8.
20Law on Communities, Article 8.9.
21Law on Communities, Article 8.3.
22Law on Communities, Article 8.11.
23Law on Communities, Article 8.4; Law on the Use of Languages, Article 22.
Economic and Social Opportunities
The legislative provisions on economic and social opportunities remain comparatively underdeveloped. Aside from general obligations on the state to promote full and effective equality, attention is focused primarily on employment.
In general terms, the state must adopt adequate measures to promote full and effective equality in economic and social life 1. Access to employment, social protection and housing are highlighted as areas of particular importance. 2
As a member of a community, you have a specific right to enjoy your property, and to work for just and equitable compensation, without discrimination. 3
If you are both a member of a community and a woman, be aware of the risk of double discrimination on the dual grounds of gender and association with a community. The state is under an obligation to adopt special measures to counter such discrimination. 4
The principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of association with a national community is a governing principle of the Civil Service. 5
The state must develop public employment programs and other specially targeted employment measures. If you are a member of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, you are entitled to special consideration in this respect. 6
Community members are entitled to equitable representation in employment at all levels in publicly owned enterprises and public institutions (including the security sector, the judiciary, the prosecution service, government agencies relating to the administration of justice and correctional facilities, defence, security, and intelligence). 7 Furthermore, the enhancement of community access to economic and employment opportunities must be undertaken with the full participation and consultation of community representative organisations. 8
With regard to recruitment, available positions must be widely advertised in the Albanian and Serbian languages. Employing authorities must establish panels of three (3) or more persons, with equitable representation of communities in Kosovo, to review applications for positions, and short-list, interview and select candidates. 9
An Independent Oversight Board has been created to deal with situations where employers have (allegedly) breached the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of association with a national minority. For details of how to make such a complaint, please refer to section III.D.3 below.
If you are a member of a community and are finding it difficult to meet the standards of admission to positions in public services, and to higher-level positions in particular, you might be entitled to certain special measures. 10 For example, all employing authorities can use the following affirmative action measures, as needed:
Active recruitment. The employer can make a special effort to identify and solicit job applications from under-represented populations, especially internally displaced persons and refugees.
Addressing the results of long-term discrimination. The employer can develop on-the-job training programs for commonly disadvantaged populations, to enhance their ability to apply and compete for promotions. Training must be offered equally to civil servants of all ethnicity and both genders.
Addressing discrimination through training and proper mechanisms for redress. The employer should ensure that personnel understand anti-discrimination policies and have access to adequate grievance procedures. 11
In addition, municipalities and executive agencies are required to prepare equal opportunity policy statements (EOPSs) and implementation strategies. The EOPSs should achieve certain objectives, for example:
Encouraging applications from under-represented sections of Kosovo society, including members of minority communities;
Promoting understanding and the use by employees of both the official languages of Kosovo; and
Ensuring that all citizens are offered the same high quality of civil services. 12
1Constitution, Article 58.4.
2 Anti-discrimination Law, Articles 4.a, 4.c, 4.e, 4.h.
3 Law on Communities, Article 9.1.
4 Law on Communities, Article 9.4.
5Regulation No 2001/36 on the Kosovo Civil Service, Article 2.1.g.
6 Law on Communities, Article 9.2.
7 Law on Communities, Article 9.5.
8 Law on Communities, Article 9.3.
9 Regulation No 2001/36 on the Kosovo Civil Service, Articles 3.1.a-b.
10 Law on Communities, Article 9.6.
11Administrative Direction No 2003/2 implementing UNMIK Regulation No 2001/36 on the Kosovo Civil Service, Articles 10.1(a)-(c).
12MPS DCSA AI 2003/12 on Equal Opportunity Procedures, available at http://www.ks-gov.net/mshp/Documents/No.MPS-DCSA-2003-12.pdf (accessed 1 July 2009).
Health care rights for communities and their members are mainly concerned with recognition of medical qualifications and the translation of medical information into community languages. More advanced rights also exist in the assignment of enhanced competencies to certain municipalities in the provision of secondary health care.
If you are a member of a community, you are entitled to equal access to health care, without discrimination. The state must take the necessary measures to ensure this. 1 In particular, it must establish effective, transparent, participatory and accessible procedures for monitoring access to and delivery of health care services for members of communities. 2 Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that satisfactory health care services are provided for persons belonging to socially and economically vulnerable communities. 3
If you are a member of a community, you have the right for information related to health care education, including information about your rights and obligations, to be provided and displayed in your community language. 4 Medical safety instructions must also be made available in your language. 5
The Republic of Kosovo must recognise medical qualifications attained abroad, notably those of persons speaking community languages, provided that these are in conformity with international standards of accreditation. 6
Enhanced municipal competencies
The municipalities of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica North, Graçanicë/Gracanica, Shtërpcë/trpce are responsible for the provision of secondary health care. This includes registration and licensing of health care institutions, recruitment, payment of salaries and training of health care personnel and administrators. 7
1Law on Communities, Article 10.1.
2Law on Communities, Article 10.6.
3Law on Communities, Article 10.2.
4Law on Communities, Article 10.5.
5Law on Communities, Article 10.3.
6Law on Communities, Article 10.4.
7Law on Local Self-government, Article 20.
Provisions for the effective political participation of communities are central to the proper functioning of a multi-ethnic society. Only through effective political representation can the diverse interests of different communities be given proper consideration in political decision-making and in the development of laws and government programmes.
Consequently, the legislative framework in Kosovo has sought to invest communities and their members with advanced rights of effective participation. These include the right to form political parties, and guaranteed representation at all levels of government.
In the institutions of Kosovo, community participation extends both vertically and horizontally:
- Vertically, from the highest level of central government to the lower municipal and local levels; and
- Horizontally, across all policy areas of particular relevance to communities (eg, education, language, religious and cultural heritage, etc).
In the central government, community participation is assured through guaranteed representation in the Kosovo Assembly, the Government, the judiciary and other bodies.
At the municipal level, communities are entitled to guaranteed representation in the legislative and executive municipal bodies, providing that at least 10% of municipal citizens belong to minority communities.
Finally, community representative organisations are encouraged to assist the respective communities in representing their interests in a consolidated way, primarily to the Community Consultative Council. The Council, in turn, will represent these interests at the central level (see section II.E.1.a above).
Community members have the right to form political parties and to run for elected seats and positions at all levels of government.
As a general rule, political parties may not exclude persons on the grounds of their belonging to communities. However, an important exception exists for members of communities who wish to establish a party with the aim of representing their community.
Assembly of Kosovo
Twenty (20) out of the one hundred and twenty (120) seats of the Assembly of Kosovo are guaranteed for representation of communities that are not in the majority in Kosovo. These are distributed as follows:
- The Kosovo Serb Community is entitled to a minimum of ten (10) guaranteed seats (even if the number of seats won in an open election is less than ten (10));
- Other communities are also entitled to a minimum number of seats, as follows:
Three (3) seats for the Bosnian community,
Two (2) seats for the Turkish community,
One (1) seat for the Gorani community,
One (1) seat for the Roma community,
One (1) seat for the Ashkali community,
One (1) seat for the Egyptian community, and
One (1) additional seat for the Roma, the Ashkali or the Egyptian community with the highest overall votes.
The Constitution can only be amended by a vote of two thirds (2/3) of all its deputies. This includes two thirds (2/3) of all deputies holding seats reserved and guaranteed for representatives of minority communities.
Two (2) of the deputy presidents of the Assembly must represent non-majority communities. Elected by a majority vote of all deputies of the Assembly, one (1) must be an Assembly deputy holding a seats reserved for the Serb Community, while one (1) must be an Assembly deputy holding a seat reserved for other non-majority communities.
Committee on the Rights and Interests of Communities (CRIC)
CRIC is a permanent committee of the Assembly, charged with assessing the compatibility of proposed legislation with the rights and interests of communities.
It composition is as follows:
- One third (1/3) of members holding seats reserved for the Serbian Community,
- One third (1/3) of members holding seats reserved for other minority communities, and
- One third (1/3) of members from the majority community.
Its procedure is as follows:
- Any proposed law can be submitted to CRIC for an advisory opinion by any member of the Presidency of the Assembly, another committee, or a group comprising at least ten (10) Assembly deputies. The Committee may also propose laws and such other measures on its own initiative, within the remit of the Assembly.
- The Committee can make recommendations regarding the proposed law, to ensure that community rights and interests are adequately addressed. Members may also issue individual opinions. It must decide whether or not to issue a recommendation within two weeks, by a majority vote of its members.
- Recommendations can be submitted to another relevant committee or to the Assembly.
Legislation of vital interest
Certain issue areas are considered to be of vital interest to communities and their members. For this reason, they require a double majority for their adoption, amendment or repeal. This means:
- The majority of votes of all Assembly deputies (present and voting), in addition to
- The majority of votes of Assembly deputies holding seats reserved for minority community representatives (present and voting).
These areas of vital interest are specified as follows:
- Laws changing municipal boundaries, establishing or abolishing municipalities, defining the scope of powers of municipalities,
- Laws implementing the rights of communities and their members, other than those set forth in the Constitution,
- Laws on the use of language,
- Laws on local elections,
- Laws on protection of cultural heritage,
- Laws on religious freedom or on agreements with religious communities,
- Laws on education, and
- Laws on the use of symbols, including community symbols and on public holidays.
Government of Kosovo
- At least one (1) minister from the Kosovo Serb Community and one (1) minister from another non-majority community (if there are more than twelve (12) ministers, the Government must have a third minister representing a non-majority community) ,
Within the Government, there must be:
- At least two (2) deputy ministers from the Kosovo Serb Community and two (2) deputy ministers from other non-majority communities (if there are more than twelve (12) Ministers, the Government must have a third Deputy Minister representing the Kosovo Serb Community and a third deputy minister representing another non-majority community).
The selection of these ministers and deputy ministers must be determined after consultation with parties, coalitions or groups representing non-majority communities. If appointed from outside the Kosovo Assembly, they require formal endorsement by the majority of Assembly deputies declaring to represent the community concerned.
Supreme Court and courts of appeal
In the Supreme Court, at least 15% judges must be from non-majority communities (no fewer than three (3)).
In any other court with appeal jurisdiction, at least 15% judges must be from non-majority communities (no fewer than two (2)).
The decision to propose two (2) out of the nine (9) Constitutional Court judges requires a two thirds (2/3) majority of Assembly deputies (present and voting) and the additional consent of the majority of Assembly deputies holding seats reserved for non-majority community representatives.
Kosovo Judicial Council
The Kosovo Judicial Council is responsible for recruiting candidates for appointment to the Judiciary. It is mandated to give preference in the appointment of judges to members of Communities that are underrepresented in the judiciary as provided by law.
Its composition is as follows:
- Two (2) of its thirteen (13) members must be elected by Assembly deputies holding seats reserved for the Kosovo Serb community, and
- Two (2) other members must be elected by Assembly deputies holding seats reserved for other non-majority communities.
Its appointment procedure is as follows:
- Appointments to judicial positions reserved for non-majority community members can only be recommended by the majority of Council members elected by Assembly deputies holding seats reserved for non-majority community members. However, if this group does not recommend a candidate for a particular position over two consecutive sessions, any Council member may do so.
- There are special procedures for basic courts that have exclusive jurisdiction over one or more municipalities in which the Serb Community is in the majority. Appointment of judicial candidates in these areas can only be recommended by the two (2) members of the Council elected by Assembly deputies holding seats reserved for the Serb Community (acting jointly and unanimously). However, if these members fail to recommend a candidate over two consecutive sessions, any Council member may do so.
Kosovo Prosecutorial Council
The Kosovo Prosecutorial Council is a body designed to recruit, propose, promote, transfer, reappoint and discipline state prosecutors. In its recruitment policy, the Council is bound to give preference to appointment of members of under-represented communities.
At the municipal level, the posts of Deputy Chairperson of Municipal Assembly for Communities and Deputy Mayor for Communities are of particular important to communities.
Deputy Chairperson for Communities (DCC) (see also section III.C.2 below)
In municipalities where at least 10% of municipal citizens belong to communities not in the majority in that municipality, a post of Deputy Chairperson for Communities will be reserved in the Municipal Assembly for a representative of those communities.
The post will be held by the non-majority community candidate who receives the most votes on the open list of candidates for the Municipal Assembly. He/She will be charged with promoting inter-community dialogue, and will serve as the formal focal point for addressing the concerns and interests of non-majority communities in the work and meetings of the Municipal Assembly.
Deputy Mayor for Communities (DMC) (see also section III.C.2 below)
In those municipalities where at least 10% of municipal citizens belong to communities not in the majority in that municipality, there must be a Deputy Mayor for Communities , elected for the same term of office as the Mayor. He/She is charged with assisting the Mayor and providing him/her with advice and guidance on issues related to non-majority communities.
The Mayor must consult the DMC on matters related to non-majority communities.
The appointment and dismissal of the DMC must be proposed by the Mayor and approved by a double majority of Municipal Assembly members (present and voting) and of members belonging to the non-majority communities (present and voting).
When the post becomes vacant, the Mayor must appoint a new Deputy Mayor no later than 30 days after the vacancy arises.
Enhanced competencies for municipalities
Certain municipalities enjoy enhanced competencies in areas deemed of particular importance to non-majority communities. These include health, education, cultural affairs and policing.
Secondary health care. The municipalities of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica North, Graçanicë/Gracanica, Shtërpcë/trpce are responsible for the provision of secondary health care, including registration and licensing of health care institutions, recruitment, payment of salaries and training of health care personnel and administrators (see also section II.J.2 above).
University education. The municipality of Mitrovicë/ Mitrovica North is responsible for the provision of higher education, including registration and licensing of educational institutions, recruitment, payment of salaries and training of education instructors and administrators.
Culture. All Serb-majority municipalities can exercise responsibility for cultural affairs, including protection and promotion of Serbian and other religious and cultural heritage within the municipal territory, as well as support for local religious communities (see also section II.E.4.b above).
Policing. Serb-majority municipalities have enhanced participatory rights in the selection of local station police commanders.