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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid