The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:
The Secretary-General would like to reiterate his appreciation for the valuable work of the Human Rights Advisory Panel, which examined alleged violations of human rights by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
The Panel was a unique human rights mechanism established in the context of a United Nations peacekeeping mission that had an executive mandate in a post-conflict environment. It became operational in November 2007, receiving and reviewing over 500 complaints. In a number of cases, the Panel concluded that there had been failures to uphold human rights standards. The Panel completed its work and subsequently provided a Final Report in July 2016.
Successive UNMIK Special Representatives of the Secretary-General have issued decisions in response to the Human Rights Advisory Panel’s findings and recommendations and have expressed deep regret for the suffering endured by the individuals identified by the Panel. The Panel’s work has also received attention in the Secretary-General’s regular reporting on UNMIK to the Security Council.
Among the cases reviewed by the Panel was a complaint submitted by 138 individuals from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities that they suffered lead poisoning and other serious health consequences as a result of their relocation to internally-displaced persons camps in northern Kosovo. The Secretary-General is keenly aware of the particular plight of those individuals, as well as the other members of these most vulnerable communities who also lived in the internally displaced persons camps. The Secretary-General wishes to express the Organization’s profound regret for the suffering endured by all individuals living in the internally displaced persons camps.
In view of the unique circumstances in Kosovo, the Secretary-General has decided, as an exceptional measure, to establish a Trust Fund. The Trust Fund will implement community-based assistance projects, primarily in North Mitrovica, South Mitrovica and Leposavić, which will benefit more broadly the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. The assistance projects will focus on the most pressing needs of those most vulnerable communities, including with respect to health services, economic development and infrastructure.
The Secretary-General believes that it is our shared duty to support the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo and ensure that they receive the assistance that they need. In this connection, the Organization will make every effort, in consultation with Member States, to mobilize the necessary resources in support of the Trust Fund. The Secretary-General calls upon the international community to support this initiative through the provision of resources to the Trust Fund.
The Organization will also continue to draw lessons from its experience in Kosovo and from the work of the Panel and take action to prevent such situations from happening again.