Field trip to Kosovo

Our one week field trip to Kosovo this year took place from 16 – 23 January 2018. The students of the Vienna Master of Arts in Human Rights and European Master’s in Venice experienced a demanding, yet interesting week of meetings with NGOs, notable persons, politicians and European institutions who are operating in a country struggling for international recognition.

Kosovo is situated in the Balkans. As of 30 January 2018, the Republic of Kosovo has received 115 diplomatic recognitions as an independent state, of which one have been withdrawn. Notably, 111 out of 193 United Nations (UN) member states and 23 out of European Union (EU) member states, have recognized Kosovo as an entity. This field trip is an opportunity for our future human rights practitioners to gain valuable insights on the past and present of Kosovo and make their own observations about the effectiveness of International Organizations and NGOs in maintaining stability generally and in combating and preventing human rights violations in particular. The experience also helps the students to understand the underlying dynamics of a country where ethnic minorities, International intervention and politics collide.

On this year’s trip besides exploring the streets of snowy Phristina we also travelled to Mitrovica, Prizren and Peja/Pec and had the opportunity to participate in very insightful and informative meetings.

Besides visits at EULEX, the OSCE, the European missions and European ombudsman and more institutions the students were able to get to know NGOs with diverse missions. To name but a few:

  • The International committee of the Red Cross: Focusing on the disappeared and missing persons of the Kosovo civil war
  • Institute for gender studies: Advocating for the rights of LGBT society and a stronger woman presence in job market within Kosovo.
  • Aktiv in Mitrovica: Focuses on reconciliation and harmonization of the relationship between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs
  • International organization for Migration Kosovo: Since 1999 it has contributed to the development of Kosovo and its inhabitants.

As it is tradition by now, the trip closed with a farewell party for all the students and contributors. We are confident that this year’s trip was an informative and light-shedding experience in Kosovo’s history and reality, a chance to form new friendships and an opportunity for our students to grow not only as professionals but as persons too.