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

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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid