For Information only
Not an official record

Statement by BTF at the


Brussels, 28 July 1999

Mr Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to inform you briefly about the recent activities in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, by the joint United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) Balkans Task Force.

A team of the Balkans Task Force, based in Pristina, is concentrating its efforts on creating mechanisms for land title registration, resolving tenancy and property disputes, and strengthing municipal adminstration and leadership.

Existing housing and property legislation contravenes a variety of internationally recognised human rights provisions. Following the recent conflict it is apparent that a great number of properties are illegally occupied. Urgent action is required to reform the legislative framework.

Cadastre records have also been damaged, destroyed or moved. As these form the basis for restoring housing rights, taxation, registration and urban management, action is required to reconstruct the cadastre system across Kosovo.

Municipal government in Kosovo was neither truly representative nor effective due to the preponderance of centralised authority and functions. Given the vacuum in civil adminstration, there is an urgent need to create structures and procedures to meet the immediate needs.

Another team of international environmental experts left yesterday Belgrade, after visiting the worst damaged industrial sites, mainly in Serbia, resulting from the Kosovo crises. The team visited Pancevo industrial complex, Novi-Sad oil refinery, the Zastava car factory in Kragujevac, factories in Nis and Bor, and fuel depots in Kraljevo, Prahova and Pristina. These sites are seen as hot spots , where hazardous substances are found spilled into the environment.

The scientist took extensive soil and ground-water samples at all the sites, and will study them in detail at their national laboratories.

Further missions will continue the scientific work during the month of August, assessing the quality of the Danube river, studying the consequences of the war on natural resources, and making detailed research on the longterm effects of the crises on human health and environment.

The joint UNEP/Habitat Balkans Task Force is working as an integral part of the UN system, and will submit its final report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in September of this year.

Thank you for your attention.