In shaping the institutions of a new country, what interventions from international actors lead to success and failure? Elton Skendaj’s investigation into Kosovo, based on national survey data, interviews, and focus groups conducted over ten months of fieldwork, leads to some surprising answers. Creating Kosovo highlights efforts to build the police force, the central government, courts, and a customs service.
Skendaj finds that central administration and the courts, which had been developed under local authority, succumbed to cronyism and corruption, challenging the premise that local "ownership" leads to more effective state bureaucracies. The police force and customs service, directly managed by international actors, were held to a meritocratic standard, fulfilling their missions and winning public respect. On the other hand, local participation and contestation supported democratic institutions. When international actors supported the demobilization of popular movements, they undermined the ability of the public to hold elected officials accountable.
"Creating Kosovo is very well written and researched and outlines a compelling hypothesis regarding the need to isolate certain aspects of the bureaucracy from politics in the process of statebuilding."
Aidan Hehir, University of Westminster
"The best feature of the book is the 'unpacking' of state institutions across four different bureaucracies. This offers a more refined understanding of state-building and generates important practical lessons for the international actors involved in such endeavors."
Alex Grigorescu, Loyola University Chicago
"The book successfully manages to capture varying degrees of institutional overlap, conflicting political agendas, and other legal and political factors that determined Kosovo's statebuilding.... [Creating Kosovo] represent[s] a valuable contribution to the literature on Kosovo and international statebuilding in general.... [Creating Kosovo] present[s] a valuable reference for scholars, students, and practitioners working or interested in the region and international statebuilding in general."
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding
"The book offers a wealth of information on different issues related to the early state building process of Kosovo, and will certainly be of interest to both students and experienced researchers working on these issues."
"Elton Skendaj's Creating Kosovo: International Oversightand the Making of Ethical Institutions provides an in-depth analysis of state building and democracy promotionin the case of Kosovo. State building has been analyzed in depth from the institutional perspective; however, Skendaj’s book tackles it from a different angle by focusing on bureaucracies.... Answering the democratization and state-building hypotheses with rich data (many interviews) and a structured organization and presentation of the material contributes to the salience of the book."