The civil society in Kosovo has been on the scene since the early 1990s. The civil society organizations emerged mainly as a response to the policies imposed by the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during this period. After the bloody conflict that took place from 1998 to 1999 and the adoption of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in February 2008, the civil society in Kosovo became more vibrant and visible. Today, the civil society in Kosovo is comprised of the local non-governmental organizations and the international non-governmental organizations that have opened local branches in the country.
After the NATO bombing in 1999, there was an influx of international non-governmental organizations in Kosovo. This significantly influenced the overall picture of the civil society in the country. Today, the civil society and human rights organizations in Kosovo are mainly focused on education, health care, women’s rights, civil war victims, the rule of law, local community development and good governance. Therefore, this article provides an overview of the ten very active and visible human rights and think thank organizations in Kosovo.
The INDEP was established in 2011 as an association that gathers researchers, policy analysts and civil society activists. It is a think thank and an advocacy organization with a mission to strengthen and guide sustainable socio-political and economic development based on the principles of democracy and democratic values. INDEP’s work is guided by the principles of accountability and transparency. Vision of this organization is for Kosovo to become a fully integrated democratic society and a functional state.
The FIQ was founded in 2000 by a small group of activists that saw the need to mobilize citizens in decision-making processes as a consequence of the war in Kosovo that took place in 1998 and 1999. Since then, the FIQ has grown from being a small organization to a national foundation that works closely on strengthening the civic role of citizens with a mission to empower citizens through philanthropy. The FIQ believes that local communities are the best place for civic activism to be developed while achieving social justice and safety.
The Youth Initiative is a regional network of non-governmental organizations on the territories of Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Initiative was established in order to tackle and strengthen the youth participation in democratic processes through the process of facing with the past. The branch of the Youth Initiative in Kosovo actively works on the programs of human rights protection and transitional justice by including young human rights activists tasked with promoting the truth, justice, responsibility and equality as the basic values.
The HLC was originally founded in 1992 in Belgrade, Serbia, by human rights activist Nataša Kandić. The organization emerged as there was a need for a human rights based non-governmental organization that would document massive human rights violations and war crimes that took place during the conflicts across the former Yugoslavia. The branch of the HLC in Kosovo was established in 1997. Today, the organization is mainly concerned with documenting war crimes and human rights violations that occurred during the conflict in Kosovo. The organization mostly focuses on killings and disappearances of Albanians, Roma, Serbs, Bosniaks and other minority groups during the conflict in 1998 and 1999.
The Levizja Fol is an independent non-governmental organization based in Pristina. It actively works on contributing to good governance as well as fighting corruption through promoting active citizenry and enhancing accountability of public institutions. The organization is active in fighting against various forms of corruption by doing public policy research, advocacy, providing institutional support, monitoring of public institutions and by organizing various conferences, roundtables and seminars. By organizing various debates and debate training programs, Fol’s goal is to increase the levels of public pressure on decision-makers to reduce abuse of public power and open new channels of communication between citizens and the government.
The mission of the D4D is to influence the development of public policy in order to accelerate socio-economic development, strengthen democratic culture and improve governance in Kosovo. The organization works actively on promoting an educated citizenry that participates in the public space and uses the public arena and decision-making mechanisms in order to build consensus over smart, efficient and sustainable resource allocation as well as equitable development.
The KIPRED works on the promotion and consolidation of democracy and democratic values in Kosovo and in the region. The organization is active in conducting an independent research of public policies in the field of democratic governance, the regional and international issues and security in order to influence the processes of public policy making and build accountable public institutions. One of the activities of the organization is providing lessons in peacekeeping, peace-building, institution-building, development, post-conflict transition as well as providing resources for development of professional research and qualitative analysis of public policies and social sciences.
The ECMI is a non-government organization tasked with the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of all minority groups in Kosovo. The ECMI’s goals is to contribute to development of an inclusive, stable and democratic ethnic society in Kosovo in which minority and human rights of members are of all communities are respected and in line with domestic and international requirements. In order to achieve this, the ECMI in Kosovo implements a wide range of activities that aim to stabilize inter-ethnic relations and ensure effective functioning of the legal, policy and institutional framework for the promotion and protection of minority rights.
The Kosovar Center for Gender Studies was founded in 2002 and was the first organization of this kind in Kosovo. Since then, the organization has become a leader in conducting research on gender issues and developing gender studies in the country with a mission to integrate gender-sensitive programs and policies in all sectors of Kosovar society. The organization works on achieving a society which is based on individual and group rights where gender equality is included in all spheres of life and in which women are able to achieve personal and professional development.
The CRP/K was founded in 1999 by the Norwegian Refugee Council. It started functioning as an independent human rights non-governmental organization in 2004 with a mandate to provide free legal assistance, counseling and representation before the courts for returnees, asylum seekers, displaced persons in Kosovo, persons at risk of statelessness and persons who are considered to be vulnerable in realization of their civil rights. The CRP/K’s goal is to address legal obstacles in order to enhance the protection of human rights and freedoms of the affected groups mentioned above.