Law professor Christie Warren and Ryan Igbanol J.D. ’07 spent the last several months in Kosovo helping to draft the newly independent nation’s constitution.
Kosovo, formerly a province of the Eastern European state of Serbia, declared its independence Feb. 17. Kosovo’s declaration of independence marks the culmination of decades of ethnic conflict between the Albanians of Kosovo and the Serbs of Serbia. Independent Kosovo is a state with a 95 percent Albanian majority and a 5 percent Serbian minority.
The constitution-drafting process began in March 2007 when a report from Finland’s former President Martti Ahtisaari to the United Nations Security Council recommended “supervised independence.”
Part of the transition to independence included the drafting of a new constitution.
“That month, I was asked by the U. S. State Department and [the U.S. Agency for International Development] to serve as an advisor to the Kosovo constitutional working group,” Warren said.
Warren and other foreign advisors did not work directly on the drafting of the constitution, but rather served as advisors to the drafters.
“Our job was to assist them by conducting wide-ranging comparative constitutional research, presenting a spectrum of options and, when we were asked, making recommendations about the issues the drafting commission was dealing with,” Warren said. “We wanted to make available to them lessons learned during other constitution-drafting exercises so they could make the most informed choices possible.”
This Monday, Warren witnessed the signing of the constitution.
Warren, however, was not the only College representative at the signing. Igbanol, who is currently working toward his Masters of Law at the University of London, was also present. He worked as the legislative history coordinator for the drafting process.
“My main responsibility was to track and document the constitution-drafting process,” Igbanol said.
Much has changed in the months since Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the signing of its constitution.
“During the past year it was very tense and uncertain since no one knew what the status of Kosovo was or would become,” Warren said.
Warren believes that the Kosovo constitution addresses the issue of the conflicting ethnicities. She added that in the constitution, “minority communities are entitled to equitable representation in employment.”
Warren and Igbanol’s work in Kosovo builds on their past experience in international law. The Kosovo constitution was Warren’s first experience working on a drafting process. However, she has worked in international law for 12 years and in 30 countries.
Igbanol has been interested in law and Eastern Europe ever since he attended the College.
Now that her work in Kosovo is complete, Warren will continue to teach at the law school and plans on incorporating her work in Kosovo into her curriculum.
“I believe it is critically important for law students to be aware of and familiar with legal systems other than their own,” Warren said.