NATO has been leading a peace support operation in Kosovo since June 1999 in support of wider international efforts to build peace and stability in the area.
Today, some 5,600 troops from the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), provided by 30 countries (23 NATO and seven KFOR partners) continue to contribute towards maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origin.
Following the unilateral declaration of independence on 17 February 2008, the Alliance reaffirmed that KFOR shall remain in Kosovo on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244, unless the United Nations Security Council decides otherwise. In June 2008, NATO agreed to take on new tasks in Kosovo. These new tasks included the standing down of the Kosovo Protection Corps and the creation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) as an all-crisis voluntary, professional, multi-ethnic, lightly armed force with a mandate encompassing crisis response, assistance to civil authorities in responding to natural and other disasters and emergencies, Explosive Ordinance Disposal and civil protection. These tasks, together with KFOR’s overall mandate, have not been affected by the ruling of the International Court of Justice on 22 july 2010: the Advisory Opinion of the Court on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence is that it did not violate international law, nor UNSCR 1244.
Throughout Kosovo, and bearing in mind its operational mandate, KFOR is cooperating with and assisting the UN, the EU and other international actors, as appropriate, to support the development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo.
Over time, as the security situation has improved, NATO has been gradually adjusting KFOR’s force posture towards a minimal presence: essentially a smaller force progressively relying more on flexibility and intelligence with fewer static tasks. The pace and level of successive troop reductions is decided by the North Atlantic Council as the security situation on the ground evolves and in light of security conditions. This process is conditions-based and not calendar-driven.