News / Europe

Kosovo Independence Ruling Watched Around World

Judge Owada is seen in the Great Hall of Justice at the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, announcing that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not violate general international law
Judge Owada is seen in the Great Hall of Justice at the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, announcing that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not violate general international law

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +
Jennifer Glasse

The United Nations General Assembly next month is expected to debate the future of Kosovo. The breakaway Serbian province became a U.N. protectorate in 1999 after its ethnic Albanian majority fought a two-year war with Serbia, then declared independence in 2008.  Earlier this summer, the U.N.'s International Court of Justice ruled that declaration legal under international law.

Kosovo's declaration of independence brought joy to the streets of its capital Pristina.  But not in Serbia where many people consider Kosovo part of their nation's ancestral homeland.  Serb leaders argued that Kosovo independence challenged Serbian sovereignty and undermined international law.  The International Court of Justice disagreed.

"The declaration of independence of the 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law," ICJ President Hisashi Owada stated.

The World Court's ruling is not binding, but Kosovo's leaders see it as an important step toward broad international recognition and eventual U.N. membership. A total of 69 countries, including the United States, Japan and most of the European Union, already recognize Kosovo.

"Basically, what the court's ruling means is whether secession is legal or not, is largely a political question. It comes down to whether enough countries recognize the entity that has seceded," said Valasek with the Center for European Reform in London.

But Kosovo still faces significant obstacles to taking a seat at the U.N. General Assembly.  Both Russia and China object, and both are permanent members of the Security Council.  Russia also is a key Serbian ally, and is caught up in a secessionist tangle of its own involving the breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Russia briefly went to war with Georgia over South Ossetia is one of the few nations that recognizes its independence.

"What Moscow may argue is, 'Well, that also puts South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the same category. All we've got to do is get other countries to recognize their independence,' which it, of course, hasn't been very successful at," added Valasek.

The debates over Kosovo, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia are not isolated arguments. A wide range of ethnic minority groups around the world have long sought independence - including some without a defined territory of their own.  Some 30 to 40 million Kurds live across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

But the U.N. court ruling on Kosovo did not address the Kurds' demand for self-determination, says Catriona Vine of the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

"That's why this particular decision has limited legal impact for the Kurds because it is about a very specific set of circumstances where the U.N. was running an interim administration," said Vine.

Key states - Romania, Slovakia and Spain - refuse to recognize Kosovo, fearing its success might spark secessionist movements in their own backyards.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid