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In 1999 Kosovo was a war-torn country with no institutions.  In the last 14 years the country has achieved many successes on its path to statehood.  It has developed institutions, undertaken necessary institutional reform, and gone through the process of decentralization.  Despite all of these achievements, judicial independence and the rule of law remain weak.  Continuing inefficiencies in the system prevent the judicial branch from effectively playing its role as a counterbalance to the powerful executive branch.  Members of the national legislature (Assembly of Kosovo) have limited autonomy, and the political landscape remains dominated by the executive branch and political party leaders.

The Government of Kosovo is committed to leading and implementing reforms that will lead toward an efficient, transparent, independent, and accountable judicial system.  This has provided USAID with an opening to engage in policy dialogue around key reform issues and to focus the welcomed assistance on strengthening the implementation of laws, oversight, management, and increased professional skills.  Such opportunities exist within the Kosovo Judicial Council (KJS), the Kosovo Prosecutor’s Council (KPC), the Kosovo Judicial Institute (KJI), and with the courts themselves.  While several legal reform opportunities exists, commercial law, property rights, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms receive USAID’s particular attention as they underpin the reforms needed to spur economic development.

At the same time there is an existing opportunity to strengthen key units within the National Assembly and Municipal Assemblies that are currently weak, particularly in terms of oversight.  Keys areas of assistance focus on enhancing the ability of these bodies to communicate with and respond to citizens’ concerns.  In addition, the Central Government’s stated support for decentralization is the foundation for USAID’s assistance to strengthen municipal administrations to advance to a higher level of accountability, especially in the areas of financial management and the development of own-source revenue.