Mission & History

Mission & History

The European Centre for Minority Issues Kosovo (ECMI Kosovo) is the principal non-government organisation (NGO) engaged with the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of all minority communities in Kosovo. Our overarching goal is to contribute to developing an inclusive, democratic and stable multi-ethnic society in Kosovo.
 

Our vision and mission

 
ECMI Kosovo’s vision is a stable multi-ethnic Kosovo in which the human and minority rights of members from all communities are realised in line with domestic and international standards. With a view to contributing to this vision, ECMI Kosovo engages in a wide range of activities aimed at stabilising inter-ethnic relations and ensuring the effective implementation and functioning of the legal, policy and institutional framework for the protection and promotion of minority rights.
Our Approach
ECMI Kosovo adopts a unique approach in its work for the protection and promotion of human and minority rights in Kosovo. One of its key aspects is our two-pronged focus, which combines top-down implementation and bottom-up feedback: we provide capacity-building and policy recommendations togovernment institutions for them to function in a community-sensitive, accountable and transparent manner, while also empowering civil society within communities to effectively participate in decision-making and advocate for their rights. This approach seeks to contribute to enhancing dialogue between these actors and developing an inclusive, participatory and accountable democracy. We also strive to ensure the inclusion of gender perspectives and the representation of particularly vulnerable groupsin our work.
In order to achieve our vision, ECMI Kosovo conducts a wide range of activities, including capacity-building, monitoring, policy-oriented research, legal analysis and support, and awareness-raising. Our unique approach allows us to combine the best qualities of NGOs, think-tanks and consultancy companies. ECMI Kosovo maintains close relations and is positively perceived by communities and a large number of stakeholders in Kosovo, both at the local and central level.
ECMI Kosovo has been active in Kosovo since 2001 and became a locally registered NGO in 2008. Today, our organisation is recognised as the leader in the field due to our vast experience in and in-depth expertise on a multitude of human and minority rights related issues, including, but not limited to, decentralisation, language and education rights, the economic and legal empowerment of minorities and vulnerable groups, and the integration of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.
Our team currently comprises around twenty-five highly motivated staff members and interns from various Kosovo communities and abroad, based at our offices in Prishtinë/Priština and Mitrovica/Mitrovicë North. In addition, ECMI Kosovo has a team of local correspondents working in the field, namely in the newly-decentralised Serb-majority municipalities throughout Kosovo.he European Centre for Minority Issues Kosovo (ECMI Kosovo) is the principal non-government organisation (NGO) engaged with the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of all minority communities in Kosovo. Our overarching goal is to contribute to developing an inclusive, democratic and stable multi-ethnic society in Kosovo.
History
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.