The Politics of Law in a Post-Conflict UN Protectorate: Privatisation and Property Rights in Kosovo (1999–2008)

Maj Grasten, Luca J. Uberti

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    This paper investigates the design and implementation of Kosovo’s post-war privatisation regime with reference to the policy ideas developed and negotiated within the bounds of Kosovo’s international transitional administration (UNMIK). Drawing on constructivist analyses of institutional change, we rely on semi-structured interviews with international officials and a review of legal documents to argue that the process of institutional change was driven largely by a contest between conflicting legal norms, rather than a contest between politically organised interest-based groups. International legal experts mobilised various competing normative paradigms residing in the background of policy debates to persuade domestic political actors that privatisation was in their interest, and to legitimise or disqualify the proposed neoliberal privatisation programme. However, the lack of consensus on the background paradigm ushered in a protracted period of ideational contestation. Privatisation in post-war Kosovo was essentially about the ‘politics of law’, as the legalisation of privatisation policy led inevitably to the contentious politicisation of legal norms.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)162–189
    Number of pages28
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Ideational contestation
    • Uncertainty
    • International administration
    • Kosovo
    • Law and development
    • Property rights

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