Kosovo has been one of the longest-running ethnic conflicts in contemporary Europe. It can be characterized by the diverse nature of the participating entities and the heterogeneous complexity of their interactions. These aspects violently surfaced during the civil war that lasted for almost two years, from 1998 to 1999. One of the major frameworks for viewing and analyzing the conflict, as well as one capable of seeing to its ultimate resolution, appears to be an assessment of the issues through the conceptual lens of “stakeholders.” This focuses on the specific investments or “stakes”—be they economic, ethnic, historic, or cultural—that each of the participants “holds” in generating the scene of the conflict. This lens provides a significant focus, and is one of the more important research methods employed within the domain of strategic analysis.

The essay analyses the role of NATO in the post Cold War period by conducting a comparison of the cases of NATO’s operations in Kosovo and Libya. The article reveals the enhanced weight of the Alliance member states and the European countries’ active role in protecting their regional interests and also show how the state interests of the USA and Russia played a significant role in the two cases. This analysis of the behavioral patterns of the former Cold War adversaries could provide a useful interpretation and perhaps an explanation of the current events in Ukraine. The pursuit of power continues to dominate the international relations arena as the confrontation between the USA and Russia is far from over.

Resolution 1244 adopted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 1999 was conceived as an interim settlement to allow conflict de-escalation while postponing the search for a lasting solution to the Kosovo crisis. The final settlement should have been negotiated between Serbian authorities and representatives of the Kosovo Albanians and then endorsed by the UNSC, as stipulated in the resolution. However, Kosovo Albanians declared independence unilaterally in February 2008 and Kosovo was recognized as such by the United States and its allies. The Kosovo Albanians promptly abandoned the peace process.

Instead of an internationally endorsed negotiated outcome, the Kosovo Albanians’ initiative unilaterally imposed a political settlement on the mediating powers in complete disregard of UNSC authority that had placed Kosovo under international administration. The subsequent involvement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) failed to resolve the remaining issues between Serbs and Kosovars.

In addition to creating a troubling legal precedent, the Kosovo example establishes a bad precedent for future conflict management initiatives, especially for ongoing conflicts in the Caucasus. Issues of concern include the viability of future interim agreements, good faith negotiations and the legitimacy and guarantees provided by the internationalization of conflicts, including the authority of international organizations, multilateral agencies and established legal standards. This paper draws parallels between the Kosovo example and territorial disputes in the Caucasus as well as the implications of the Kosovo model on conflict management processes.