ECMI Publications Database

#106: Local Bodies for Interethnic Relations in the Western Balkan States
Ljubica Djordjević
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The paper examines local mechanisms for interethnic dialogue which have been established in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia, with the main question concerning why they have remained ineffective for such a long period of time. The focus lies on local councils (Serbia), commissions (Macedonia), and committees (Kosovo) established in the respective laws on local self -governance, as specific institutional mechanisms for both participation of national minorities in municipal affairs and dialogue among communities residing in a municipality. In all three countries these bodies have been institutionally set as consultative bodies attached to a municipal assembly which deals with the issues relevant for national equality (Serbia), relations between communities (Macedonia) or respect for rights and interests of the communities (Kosovo). The main purpose of their activity is to address recommendations and opinions , primarily to the municipal assembly. They should serve as a channel for smaller communities to express their needs and interests, and as a forum for interethnic dialogue in a municipality. Yet, although legally established almost 15 years ago in Serbia and Macedonia (2002) and 10 years ago in Kosovo (2008), these bodies still remain more of a form than a content. Legal vagueness, lack of municipal support, inactivity, poor transparency and democratic legitimacy are just some of the weak points which cause their po or performance.    

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