Kosovo Conflict Mapping I: 1998

In the summer of 1998, NPWJ established a team of experts in international humanitarian and international criminal law to engage in a project concerning the alleged commission of violations of international humanitarian law in Kosovo, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) (“FRY”), during 1998. More specifically, the project was concerned with those violations that are within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (“International Tribunal” or “ICTY”).
The team, composed of six members, travelled to Kosovo and other parts of the FRY, as well as to neighbouring Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania, in October 1998 in order to conduct the necessary field research for this report. The method of operation during the field mission largely involved meeting and interviewing various individuals and organisations on the ground, including local journalists and non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”), members of the diplomatic community, representatives of international NGOs, as well as of international governmental agencies, and personnel from the various Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Missions (“KDOM”).
In November and December 1998, a second field mission was conducted to follow up on the initial contacts which had been established. A smaller team again visited Kosovo, as well as Belgrade, and gathered some new material, in addition to confirming existing information and the conclusions that had been formulated on the basis of the previous visit. This aspect of the work of the project was also supplemented by research and analysis conducted in Brussels, New York and Washington D.C. Open source information available on the conflict in Kosovo, including news reports and those compiled by various international NGOs, was gathered, along with military information. This was utilised to provide the context for as well as the substance of the report, which seeks to present the findings of the project from the perspective of the relevant norms of international humanitarian law and the jurisdictional provisions of the Statute of the ICTY.
It was not the purpose of the mission to document each and every violation of international humanitarian law committed in Kosovo during the conflict. The aim was rather to demonstrate the existence of a campaign organised from within the State structure of the FRY, which involved the widespread commission of violations of international humanitarian law. The report thus focused on serious violations of international humanitarian law which were rapidly fading into the past and sought to ensure that they be fully investigated and discussed in order to assess the criminal responsibility of those who directed the violence, destruction and suffering of the whole Kosovo conflict, from the highest level.