In 1999, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) established an office in Pristina to implement a technical legal assistance program in Kosovo. ABA ROLI representatives assessing the status of the post-conflict legal system were some of the first legal advisors on the ground. This year, ABA ROLI celebrates 10 years of rule of law promotion in Kosovo.
In February 2008, Kosovo announced its independence from Serbia. By the end of 2008, 52 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and other EU members, have recognized Kosovo’s independence. The declaration of independence was passed unanimously by the Kosovar Parliament, which also selected a new flag, showing the shape of the country in gold, on a blue background, with six white stars. On April 9, 2008, Kosovo’s Parliament adopted a new constitution. On June 15, 2008, the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo entered into force.
Since commencing its program in Kosovo, ABA ROLI has been primarily focused on the establishment of basic legal institutions in the post-conflict environment; on the promotion of self-sustaining training for judges, attorneys and prosecutors; and on conducting a war crimes documentation project. ABA ROLI has worked on several major projects including:
- training for all newly-appointed judges in Kosovo and the creation of the Kosovo Judges Association in May 2001.
- the design of a two-week, intensive course on human rights standards and on Kosovar criminal and criminal procedure laws conducted in Prague.
- capacity building projects with the Kosovo Chamber of Advocates and Kosovo Judges Association through the Regional Institution Building Advisor program.
- publication of the Judicial Reform Index (Volume I in 2002, Volume II in 2004, and Volume III in 2007), of the Legal Profession Reform Index (Volume I in 2004 and Volume II in 2007), and of the first Legal Education Reform Index (Volume I in 2008).
- continuing legal education programs.
ABA Rule of Law Initiative in Kosovo focuses its work primarily in two areas: Legal Education Reform and Civic Education, and Legal Profession Reform.