"Housing rights and urban governance are emerging as some of the key issues upon which the future stability of Kosovo will depend," said Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Acting Executive Director of UNCHS (Habitat) and Executive Director of UNEP. "Despite the massive scale of destruction, the problem of reconstruction involves more than just rebuilding damaged and destroyed houses."
For over a decade, legislation prevented Albanians from buying their own home. To overcome this form of apartheid, where a Serb could not sell a house to an Albanian, many individuals made informal arrangements of ownership. Such arrangements now make the task of tracing and verifying ownership of properties difficult. An additional problem is that there are no comprehensive records of land and property rights as a large part of the original cadastral records has been either destroyed or removed from Kosovo.
Without proper records and legally recognised structures of urban governance ethnic conflict is likely to be exacerbated, especially as disputes about illegally occupied land and property are difficult to resolve. This means that successful reconstruction and rehabilitation depends on, amongst other things, the formation of an independent Commission on Housing and Property Rights. Mechanisms must also be established for mapping and recreating land registration and titling systems.
Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Acting Executive Director of UNCHS (Habitat) and Executive Director of UNEP, is to travel to Pristina on Friday 20 August 1999 to meet with Dr. Bernard Kouchner, Senior Representative of the Secretary General, UNMIK, to discuss ways of ensuring security of tenure for returning refugees, capacity building for better urban governance and the proposed independent Commission on Housing and Property Rights.
For more information:
Tore J. Brevik,
on Tel: 254-2-6232, fax: 623692;
BTF Press Officer,
Actg. Head, Media & Press Relations, UNCHS (Habitat)
Tel: 254-2-623153, fax: 624060;
UNCHS (Habitat), Pristina, Kosovo,
Zahra A. Hassan
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)
Tel: 254-2-623151 Fax: 254-2-624060