University of Pittsburgh School of Law alumna Vjosa Osmani (LLM ’05, SJD ’15)—who has been credited with helping to bring about her native Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008—has been appointed the new president of her homeland. The Republic of Kosovo’s 120-seat parliament voted in favor of the appointment on April 4th by 70 votes.
Osmani, a native of Prishtina in Kosovo, had already been serving as interim president following Hasim Thaçi’s resignation last year to face charges of crimes against humanity. She had previously served on the parliament and was the president’s representative to the Constitutional Commission, the body that drafted the first constitution of the Republic of Kosovo.
In reporting on Sunday’s victory, Reuters said the 38-year-old Osmani represents “a type of young Kosovar more familiar with life in the West and frustrated with the nepotism and ineffectiveness of the country’s traditional parties.”
Since earning her master’s in international and comparative law and doctorate in law at Pitt, Osmani has been widely-regarded internationally as one of the most active members of any world parliament on issues relating to the rule of law in foreign policy. She is also a strong advocate for women’s rights and human rights.
It is this work that garnered Osmani Pitt’s 2017 Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award. While accepting the honor at an on-campus ceremony hosted by the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) four years ago, Osmani praised Pitt for its investment in legal education, which she said helped increase the efforts in the rule of law and democracy for her country, torn apart by war in 1998-99.
“The United States’ support in general and from Pitt in particular has helped to rebuild lives, create opportunities, assist societies in achieving rule of law, but most importantly, create hope in countries which were in dire need of international support,” Osmani said.
She also praised her mentor, Pitt Law Professor of Law Ronald Brand, who once told her: “No matter how global our experiences, our world consists of the people who touch our lives.”
Brand says he has been telling colleagues for years that he expected Osmani to win the presidency.
“She is simply one of those people destined to do special things,” he said. “She has a combination of intelligence, integrity, dedication and love of country that very few possess. She has persevered despite very difficult circumstances at various stages of life. Moreover, she has been a leader from a very young age who can garner trust across age groups, genders and backgrounds.”
UCIS Director and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Ariel Armony said Osmani’s election speaks volumes.
“Her election as president of Kosovo is exemplary of the powerful contributions of Pitt alumni around the world,” he said. “It highlights how international education contributes to advance democratic values. As Vjosa’s work demonstrates, we are committed to educate leaders who are ready to tackle complex challenges, champion diversity and advance the rule of law.”