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What Makes Kosovo a Weak State?

Marius Calu

‚ Queen Mary/University of London, UK


The literature that I put forth in this paper starts with the critique of liberal interventionism, which emphasises the changing character of sovereignty and the societystate rift so as to explain why contemporary statebuilding has a paradoxical effect of stateweakening and state-failure. I argue that a competing literature has been emerging with the aim of stimulating more consistent explanations of state weakness. This can be done by highlighting the perennial legacy of the past in relation to the absence of the state-society interdependence. If we identify external imposition/control as the key problem of post-conflict statebuilding missions (external source of legitimacy), then the solution to encourage local autonomy for self-governing capacity should give positive results (develop domestic legitimisation). However, in practice this may not work given that the problem of postconflict societies to develop a democratic legal authority has more significant and complex origins (local context legacy of conflict; society-state gap). Furthermore, liberal-democratic measures and standards that define contemporary statebuilding are implemented improperly not necessarily because they are imposed and given a different character, but because they are in conflict with the internal pre-established fracture between the state and its population. In the case of Kosovo, the post-1999 statebuilding efforts starting with UNMIK, the role of NATO and afterwards the primary influence of the EU, thus the external administration of the province (cause A), have been criticised for creating a certain degree of dependency on legitimacy from outside, in the detriment of democratisation and domestic legitimacy (Chandler, 2004, 2010; Ignatieff, 2003; Lemay-Hebert, 2008; Tansey, 2007; Weller, 2008; Zaum, 2007). As a consequence, the progress of statebuilding in Kosovo has started to encourage and implement local autonomy (EULEX, declaration of independence) (solution a). However, the more significant and perhaps the real cause is the dual legacy of conflict and communism (cause B), which has been manifesting in several ways including ethnic, social and political division, the absence of national cohesion, economic dependency and security issues. Once statebuilders begin to to understand better the cause behind Kosovo’s permanent state weakness and limits that work in the detriment of sustaining a functional model of governance, the focus will turn to finding answers to step forward from the legacy of the past. Given that one of my hypotheses affirms that state weakness may benefit from a more consistent explanation by focusing on endogenous causes of the state-society rift, the empirical element of my thesis will consist of an investigation of this rift within the judiciary and the implementation of the rule of law. Following on the distinction between understanding sovereignty as control and as responsibility, I intend to examine the judicial and rule of law capacities in the ethnically divided North Kosovo from two perspectives: (1) the status and role of the Kosovar state as indicated by the authority of Mitrovica in its jurisdiction (control) in balance with (2) the responsibility of the state to respect the rights of its citizens to equal, independent and effective justice. Respecting these rights is a common problem in North Kosovo for both Serbian and Albanian communities, which therefore suggests a preference of state-authority for developing sovereignty as control.


About author:


Marius Calu graduated in 2009 in Politics at Queen Mary, University of London and was awarded a Romanian Government Special Scholarship as part of a programme implemented by UNDP. Thereafter he decided to continue his studies with a Masters of Research (MRes) in International Relations at the same UK institution. Apart from being a Ratiu Foundation Scholar (2009-2010) he was also awarded a University of London Bursary for his Masters studies. The title of his dissertation was: A critical analysis of sovereignty: Building states outside Europe. Furthermore, in October 2010 he started the first year of his PhD in Political Science. As a beneficiary of a Queen Mary studentship his research has been focusing on the following theme: Beyond Liberal peacebuilding. The role of the EU in Kosovo and the question of sovereignty. Marius Calu’s activity as a postgraduate researcher has until now included until now participation as a speaker at three international conferences in Montenegro, Kosovo and in Albania and also the publication of one paper in an academic journal specialized in South-East Europe studies.