This study takes a conceptualising approach to the case of KFOR and Kosovo. To understand the purpose, outcome, and potential of KFOR in the Kosovo conflict, and to allow for this understanding to have potential validity beyond this specific case, it was essential to clearly define KFOR as a concept. KFOR is understood as an international military presence responsible for the security component of a postwar statebuilding mission, a concept which consists of the provision of a secure environment, which is not statebuilding per se, and the statebuilding aspect, which is the establishment and development of the Kosovo Security Force.
In addition to the mandate of KFOR, an analytical framework, focused on the relation between the population of an area and the international military of the postwar statebuilding mission in it, is applied to define the purpose and outcome of KFOR, a framework consisting of the duration dilemma and factors affecting susceptibility towards the dilemma, namely the footprint dilemma, type of intervention, and threat environment. The analysis is conducted by applying the framework from the perspective of KFOR exclusively, and by abandoning a unitary concept of the Kosovar population due to the point that the concepts of the framework perhaps should be understood differently among Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. The thesis also provides an alternative analysis of the civil disorder of 2004 to the one by David M. Edelstein in the chapter where the applied theoretical framework was developed.
The analysis focuses on the externalisation of the security forces of Belgrade from the perspective of the Albanians, and the protection against inter-ethnic violence within Kosovo from the perspective of the Serbs. The concept of a recognition game, based upon a work by Rick Fawn and Oliver P. Richmond, is also applied, and it is argued that the rejection of the authority of the autonomous security institutions of Kosovo by Serbs should be understood as being caused in part by attempts to undermine the authority of the government in Pristina, but also due to the fact that those institutions lack credibility as security providing institutions for the Serbs in Kosovo. On the possible future implications it is suggested that a political solution to the conflict could be dependent on an international security guarantee for the Serbs in Kosovo, and that KFOR appears to be the most credible guarantor from the perspective of the Kosovo Serbs.