The Council of Europe has been supporting Kosovo* towards the advancement of its reform agenda through co-operation activities since 1999, in full compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. The Council of Europe Office in Pristina holds a key role in the implementation of the co-operation activities by facilitating the delivery of support programmes, assisting key institutions in the process of democratic reforms and actively co-ordinating efforts with all relevant local and international actors in the field.
The first Working Group on co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Kosovo* institutions met in Pristina in November 2013 to initiate discussion on collaborative planning and programming and was followed by six Working Group meetings which took place between 2014 and 2021. The latest meeting of the Working Group was organised on 27 October 2021 in Pristina in a hybrid format.
The implementation of the Overview of Co-operation activities document provides a framework to the Council of Europe co-operation. It aims to contribute to the stability and democracy in Kosovo*, by assisting in bringing legislation, institutions and practice further into line with Council of Europe standards in the areas of human rights, rule of law and democracy. In December 2021, the Committee of Ministers took note of the current update of the Overview document. It includes further support to the Constitutional Court, enhancing anti-trafficking actions, fostering rapprochement through education for democracy and language learning, improvement of the treatment of persons deprived of liberty, reinforcing the fight against violence against women and domestic violence and promoting access to information.
Based on the tangible results reached thanks to the actions carried out under the first phase of the European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey, the second phase of the programme has been ongoing since May 2019. Throughout this second phase, authorities continue to be supported in the fields of strengthening the efficiency and quality of justice, countering discrimination and ensuring inclusiveness, as well as enhancing freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
In addition, authorities also benefit from the European Union/Council of Europe joint programme INCLUDE which supports fostering quality education and improving access to education for children from disadvantaged groups; and from the European Union/Council of Europe Joint Programme Project Against Economic Crime in Kosovo* (PECK III) that seeks to enhance anticorruption practices.
Co-operation activities are also implemented in the field of countering violence against women in accordance with the standards set in the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). In line with this, the third phase of the project “Reinforcing the fight against violence against women and domestic violence” which aims to strengthen the capacities of authorities to provide better access to justice for victims is currently underway. In the framework of this project, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) will conduct a monitoring and evaluation assessment of the implementation of the Istanbul Convention following the National Assembly’s decision to give it direct effect.
Moreover, a project on strengthening institutions in the fight against torture, ill-treatment and other degrading treatment (IKOS) focuses on enhancing the capacities of the Academy of Justice and the judiciary to sustainably ensure effective investigations of allegations of torture and ill-treatment related to persons deprived of their liberty. It also aims at helping law students better understand and internalise standards of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to fight the against ill-treatment.
Additionally, a project on “Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings” is ongoing. The project aims to strengthen institutional capacities to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings in line with the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The level and quality of the measures taken in this field since 2015 has been measured in the framework of the second Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) assessment of the compliance with the standards of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The findings of the assessment provide a baseline for more in-depth interventions by the Council of Europe and are expected to contribute to improved coherence and synergies with other ongoing and/or planned activities in the field of anti-trafficking.
In the field of democracy, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is implementing the project “Promoting local democracy”. In close co-operation with the Association of Kosovo Municipalities, the project aims to improve local self-government and the quality of local democracy by fostering multilevel dialogue and strengthening the capacities of local authorities on political integrity, public ethics and open government principles. It also provides a state of play of the implementation of the principles enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
Kosovo* also has an active role in the regional actions implemented under the Horizontal Facility in the fields of addressing radicalisation in prisons (under which a tailored Beneficiary-specific component was designed), enhancing the human rights education for legal professionals (HELP), as well as achieving quality and sustainability of justice through the Council of Europe flagship initiative based on the European Commission on the efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) methodology “Dashboard – Western Balkans”. Similarly, the following topics are also tackled from a regional perspective: judicial training institutes, legal certainty, economic crime, promotion of diversity and equality and freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
Authorities also benefit from two European Union/Council of Europe regional Joint Programmes implemented in South-East Europe. The capacity of the authorities to search, seize and confiscate cybercrime proceeds, prevent money laundering on the Internet and secure internet evidence is further reinforced through the second phase of the regional programme iPROCEEDS 2, while support in promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at a local level is streamlined through the second phase of the ROMACTED regional programme.
*All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations' Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.
Through the implementation of these projects in 2021, the co-operation activities in Kosovo* contributed to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 3 (target 8), SDG 4 (targets 1, 5 and 10), SDG 5 (targets 1 and 2), SDG 8 (target 7), SDG 10 (targets 2 and 3) and SDG 16 (targets 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, a and b).
More information: Overview of the Council of Europe Contribution to the UN 2030 Agenda.