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Operation Kosovo: KRISYS NET

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Trip Reports

Operation Kosovo Trip Report
July 1998

Assessment Trip

To evaluate the feasibility of the project, and to explore relationships with potential local partners, Operation Kosovo sent two IPRO students, together with Assistant Dean Rudnick, to Albania in mid-July, 1998. During the week-long trip, which included a visit to the Northern Albanian region where most of the refugees are located, the IPRO Delegation met with the following nongovernmental and international organizations, representatives of the Albanian and the United States governments, and telecommunications and technology experts:

    • Nongovernmental and International Organizations. The IPRO team consulted with the representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Albanian Encouragement Project (an umbrella group of seventy nongovernmental organizations in Albania).

    • Albanian Governmental Offices. The IPRO group held several meetings with officials in the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including the Director of the Department for the Americas, Asia and Pacific, as well as the desk officer for the United States. The team also met with the director and the deputy director of the newly-created Office for Refugees within the Albanian Ministry of Local Government. Prior to the departure of the IPRO delegation to Albania, representatives of Operation Kosovo also met with the Albanian Ambassador to the United States in Washington, Petrit Bushati, who expressed his strong support for Operation Kosovo and provided assistance in establishing Government contacts in Tirana. A copy of Ambassador Petritís letter of endorsement is attached to this proposal.

    • United States Government Representatives. During the trip to Albania, the team met and briefed the United States Ambassador to Albania on Operation Kosovo, in the now-closed U.S. Embassy in Tirana. The team also consulted with the chief public affairs officer of the United States Information Service, who provided advice and logistical support in arranging the groups trip to Northern Albania.

    • Telecommunications and Technology Experts. The IPRO delegation also discussed the state of Internet connectivity and the telecommunication infrastructure in Albania with a representative of the Soros Internet Center in Tirana, with the director of information technology for the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with a technical expert at UNDP. In addition, the group conducted its own assessment of the telecommunications infrastructure in Tirana and in the region surrounding the northern city of Bajram Curri, where most of the refugees are located.

Based on the information gathered during this assessment trip, as well as significant research conducted into the international legal and policy issues raised by Operation Kosovo, the IPRO team has formulated the recommendations contained below for implementing the goals set by Operation Kosovo.

Project Implementation

Operation Kosovo proposes the following strategy for implementing its goals:

  1. Expand upon existing Internet connections. The IPRO trip revealed the existence of three Internet nodes in Albania at the present time. Our team carefully considered the option of establishing a new, fourth Internet node in Albania. However, the risks associated with this approach in a country as unstable and technologically backward as Albania are significant. Therefore, Operation Kosovo has concluded that it will better to expand upon one of the existing Internet connections. In order to achieve this objective, we will seek to establish a relationship with one of the existing Internet node operates in Tirana. Operation Kosovo would then use radio modems from the more remote region where the refugees are located to establish a connection to this Internet node.

  1. Establish relationship with Soros Internet Center in Tirana. The Soros Internet Center in Tirana will make an ideal partner for establishing effective Internet connectivity. As one of three existing Internet nodes in Albania, the Soros Internet Center is currently applying its resources to three primary projects: (a) operation of an "Open Internet Center," (b) connection of Albanian universities to the Internet, (c) creation of an Albanian cultural database. Operation Kosovo proposes adding a fourth element to this trinity: connection of governmental, nongovernmental and international organizations working with Kosovo refugees in Albania to the Internet, and using this connection to provide legal advice and information to the refugees.

  1. Pilot Project. In order to minimize the initial investment in Operation Kosovo, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the technological network and institutional relationships, Operation Kosovo proposes to begin with a Pilot Project involving one governmental office and one nongovernmental or international organization office. We will obtain, configure and deliver computer hardware and software to each of there organization, and then establish Internet connections using radio modems and/or land lines as conditions permit. This will give each organization immediate access to the legal information for refugees already available on our Website. It will also enable the groups to submit questions from the refugees to the legal experts we are assembling at Chicago-Kent. If the Pilot Project is successful, we will expand the project to other locations and organizations as appropriate.

Fall 1998 Implementation Trip. Operation Kosovo prepares to send a second IPRO delegation to Albania in October or November, 1998. This team would deliver and install the computers, ensure that the links to the Internet node are functional, and oversee the natural interaction with the refugee community. The trip should take place no later than early November, due to the early onset of winter in Albanian and difficulty of reaching refugees settlement areas.

 

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The Rule of Law Through Technology Initiative
is an Interprofessional Project (IPRO) of

Chicago-Kent College of Law,
Illinois Institute of Technology