The European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) was established in 1996 by the Kingdom of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German State of Schleswig-Holstein in Flensburg, Germany, at the heart of the Danish-German border region, to draw from the encouraging example of peaceful co-existence between minorities and majorities. ECMI Kosovo first became active in Kosovo as a field office of ECMI in 2001.
After supporting the Standards Implementation Process (2004), ECMI Kosovo assisted members of minority communities to formulate their views and advocate for their inclusion in the status negotiation process (2005 – 2007). Following the introduction of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s Comprehensive Proposal for the Final Status of Kosovo (Ahtisaari Plan) in 2007, ECMI Kosovo participated in the drafting of key minority rights legislation, including the Law on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Communities and their Members, the Law on the Use of Languages and the ‘Rights and Interests of Communities’ section of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo.
After Kosovo declared independence in February 2008, ECMI Kosovo became a locally registered NGO in July of that same year, while maintaining its co-operation with ECMI and thus continuing to benefit from international oversight, specialised expertise and comparative experiences. Today, ECMI Kosovo is recognised as the leading NGO on minority issues in Kosovo.
In the post-declaration of independence period, ECMI Kosovo’s work has focused on ensuring the effective implementation of the legislative framework described above. It has applied a two-pronged approach, working closely with both government institutions and minority communities directly.
ECMI Kosovo has also supported the establishment of the three main bodies responsible for minority rights in Kosovo: the Office for Community Affairs (operating within the Office of the Prime Minister), the reformed Office of the Language Commissioner (independent institution), and the Consultative Council for Communities (operating within the Office of the President). Simultaneously, ECMI Kosovo has co-operated closely with municipal administrations. Since 2008, it has been continuously engaged in supporting Kosovo’s decentralization process, including the establishment of the new Serb-majority municipalities. It has also been intensively involved in supporting municipalities in improving education for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, and in the provision of Albanian and Serbian language courses to municipal officials.
Our activities have also included working closely with grassroots minority organisations to strengthen their capacities to effectively influence policy decisions at the local and central levels and to advocate for the protection and promotion of their rights. Concretely, over the past years, ECMI Kosovo has organised a number of advocacy campaigns on priority issues for communities, provided legal support to minority communities in the defence of their human rights and implemented a number of awareness raising campaigns aimed at improving the knowledge of both minority and majority communities on community and human rights. In order to improve the socio-economic opportunities of minority communities, ECMI Kosovo has also supported local entrepreneurs in developing their enterprises and in establishing and running business associations.
In 2012, ECMI Kosovo opened an office in Mitrovica/Mitrovicë North, which engages in trust-building activities between the Albanian and Serb communities and works with both the Mitrovica North Administrative Office and local communities.