NGO Regulation Adopted in Kosovo

17 November 1999

On November 16, 1999, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) issued the Regulation on the Registration and Operation of Non-Governmental Organizations. This regulation creates the basic framework for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Kosovo. Prior to this regulation, NGOs operated in a legal vacuum which posed a significant obstacle to the development of civil society in Kosovo.

The Kosovar and international NGO community actively participated in the preparation of this regulation. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) served as the primary technical advisor to UNMIK on this regulation. UNMIK significantly revised the draft in response to this participatory process, and the final version reflects a number of international best practices.

The following is a summary of key provisions:

  1. Consistent with civil law traditions, the regulation permits the establishment of both associations and foundations.
  2. Associations and foundations may be established for either public benefit or mutual interest.
  3. One person can establish a foundation, and only three persons are required to found an association. Both legal and physical persons are permitted to be founders.
  4. Registration is quite simple, and UNMIK has limited authority to deny registration. The regulation also recognizes that individuals have the right to associate without forming a legal entity.
  5. Associations and foundations are allowed to engage in economic activities to support their purposes.
  6. The regulation gives founders broad discretion to structure the organization’s internal governance.
  7. The regulation allows foreign and international organizations to operate in Kosovo by registering with UNMIK.
  8. UNMIK has authority to dissolve an NGO that violates the regulation. UNMIK must generally notify the organization of any violation of the regulation and allow the organization an opportunity to remedy the violation before instituting dissolution proceedings.
  9. The regulation lays the groundwork for tax/fiscal benefits for public benefit NGOs.
  10. The regulation supersedes inconsistent provisions of Serb and Yugoslav law, which restricted NGO development in Kosovo.

ICNL’s work in Kosovo is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, with initial funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development.

ICNL is now providing technical assistance to the UNMIK registration office on implementation issues. ICNL will also work with UNMIK and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to educate NGOs on this new enabling framework.

Announcement in Albanian