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article imageOverwhelmed by crises, UN council puts Kosovo on back burner

By AFP     Feb 7, 2019 in World

Faced with an ever-growing list of world conflicts to tackle, the UN Security Council decided on Thursday that it would cut the number of meetings it is holding on Kosovo to allow time for more pressing crises.

The United States and European countries at the United Nations' top body argued that four meetings per year on Kosovo was too much, but faced resistance from Russia to shifting attention away from the Balkans.

"If you look at the amount of conflict actually on the ground in Kosovo," said British Ambassador Karen Pierce, "there isn't anything like the level of the issues that are dealt with in places like Yemen, or DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo)".

Under a deal agreed on Thursday, the council will hold three meetings on Kosovo this year and two in 2020.

Kosovo, home to an ethnic-Albanian majority, broke away from Serbia in a bloody 1998-99 war and declared independence a decade later, with strong backing from Washington.

But Serbia, backed by Russia, has never accepted the split and has waged a diplomatic campaign to prevent Kosovo from becoming a full member of organizations like the United Nations.

"The real problem is that the Serbs and the Kosovars need to normalize their relations," said Pierce, who lamented the lack of a settlement, 20 years on.

As the world's premier body tasked with maintaining international peace and security, the council has seen its monthly program of work fill up with meetings on Syria, Yemen, Israeli-Palestinian tensions, a range of African conflicts along with many unanticipated crises.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre told a round-table discussion on Wednesday that UN diplomats were "overwhelmed" by work as they seek to douse fires erupting in so many global hotspots.

In 2017, the council reached an all-time record for the number of meetings held -- 433 -- compared to 408 last year.

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