Kosovo Verification Mission

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The 1998-1999 Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) was an OSCE mission to verify that the Serbian[1][2] and Yugoslav forces[3][4][5][6] were complying with the UN October Agreement to end atrocities in Kosovo, withdraw armed forces from Kosovo, and abide by a ceasefire.[1][7]


The KVM's job was to monitor parties' compliance with the agreement, to report any breaches to the OSCE, and to help affected civilians in Kosovo. Other requirements included:

  • To report on roadblocks;
  • To oversee elections;
  • To ensure that independent and fair police service was set up.[8]


United States diplomat William Walker was appointed head of the mission; he was relatively senior, reflecting the importance that NATO put on a peaceful settlement. His deputy was Gabriel Keller.[9]

Despite being much larger and more complex than any previous OSCE mission,[9] the KVM was put together relatively quickly; parts of the team arrived in Kosovo a month after the 16 October agreement. The KVM was divided into five regions, with a headquarters in Pristina.

Immediately after the Agreement, neither side adhered to the ceasefire; state loyalist forces continued to shoot at civilians, and there were sporadic KLA attacks on state forces.[10]

When a KVM team arrived at the scene of the Račak massacre, they found "36 bodies 23 of which were lying in a ditch".[11][12] An independent Finish forensic investigation established that the bodies had evidence of ballistic gunshot trauma from a distance and traces of gunpowder residue on their hands, suggesting that they were killed as a result of a skirmish with Yugoslav police force.[13]

Operation Eagle Eye[edit]

Operation Eagle Eye was part of the Kosovo Verification Mission during the Kosovo War using aircraft were contributed by France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, the UK, and the USA. Beginning on 17 October 1998. The aim was to monitor the federal Yugoslav government's compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199, and in particular the withdrawal of armed forces from Kosovo and compliance with the ceasefire.[14]

The monitors comprised 1,400 ground observers. As a result of Yugoslav troop activities and other forms of non-compliance, the ground observers withdrew citing "an unacceptable level of risk to the peace support verification mission"[1], resulting in an end to aerial verification on March 24, 1999.


In March 1999, together with the Rambouillet Agreement which the Serbian government refused to sign, there was an increase in ceasefire violations by both sides; as the risks increased, it was decided to withdraw the KVM to Ohrid in Macedonia. Yugoslav forces' reaction to the withdrawal was "remarkably docile" and the KVM was downsized to 250 staff.[7]

Then, after the KVM had left, state forces[15][16][17] began a campaign of killings, rapes, detentions, and deportations of the Kosovar Albanian population.[18]

Refugees fled to Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro; many refugees had their documents destroyed.

As a result, on 24 March NATO started its bombing campaign in what remained of Yugoslavia.[1]

In April 1999, the OSCE decided that the KVM should help deal with the refugee chaos; 70 verifiers were sent to Tirana, where they helped coordinate disaster-response and interviewed refugees.[7]


  1. ^ a b c "WINNING THE WAR AND THE PEACE IN KOSOVO". The White House. Archived from the original on 2015-07-15.
  3. ^ "OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (closed) - OSCE". www.osce.org.
  4. ^ Ristic, Marija (23 April 2013). "Serbian Paramilitary Describes Massacre of Kosovo Villagers". BIRN. BALKAN TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE.
  5. ^ "Serbian court jails nine for 1999 war crimes in Kosovo". Reuters. 11 February 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
  6. ^ "UNDER ORDERS: War Crimes in Kosovo - 3. Forces of the Conflict". www.hrw.org. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Brigadier-General Maisonneuve (Spring 2000). "THE OSCE KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION" (PDF). Canadian Military Journal.
  8. ^ Bellamy (April 2001). "Reconsidering Rambouillet". Contemporary Security Policy. 22 (1): 31–56. doi:10.1080/13523260512331391056. S2CID 218543746.
  9. ^ a b Bellamy; Griffin (2002). "OSCE Peacekeeping: Lessons From the Kosovo Verification Mission". European Security. 11 (1): 1–26. doi:10.1080/09662830208407522. S2CID 154248326.
  10. ^ "Serbs Leave Kosovo as Deadline Closes In". Los Angeles Times. 27 October 1998. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-08-04. Retrieved 2012-07-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Richard Holbrooke interview". Frontline. PBS. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  13. ^ Rainio, J.; Lalu, K.; Penttilä, A. (February 2001). "Independent forensic autopsies in an armed conflict: investigation of the victims from Racak, Kosovo". Forensic Science International. 116 (2–3): 171–185. doi:10.1016/S0379-0738(00)00392-3. PMID 11182269.
  14. ^ "Operation Eagle Eye". NATO. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  15. ^ "CNN - No evidence of Yugoslav troop withdrawal from Kosovo, NATO says - May 11, 1999". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Human Rights Watch, Kosovo: Focus on Human Rights". www.hrw.org. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  17. ^ "BBC News - Europe - Kosovo: The conflict by numbers". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  18. ^ Erasing History: Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. U.S. Department of State. May 1999. Retrieved 11 May 2013.