International Court of Justice supports Kosovo separation

Kosovo Flag

Kosovo is only 31 countries away from acquiring a UN recognition. (Photo: Kosovo Future Maker/Flickr/cc by-nd)

The international court within the UN, the International Court of Justice, has ruled that Kosovo has the legal right to declare freedom from Serbia. Both sides of this debate have been waiting anxiously for this decision. This decision is going to have effects around the world.

Kosovo declares freedom

In February of 2008, Kosovo made a unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. Between 1998 and 1999, Serbian forces cracked down on Kosovo separatists. This crackdown left about 10,000 individuals dead. Response attacks killed another several thousand people. A special administrative mission of the United Nations has helped govern the Kosovo region of Serbia since 1999. Serbia claims it must keep the Kosovo region because it is a major part of their national identity.

Kosovo’s freedom not completely recognized

The freedom of Kosovo as a nation has been recognized by only 69 other countries. It takes 100 countries recognizing an independent state before the UN will recognize its independence. Serbia asked the International Court of Justice to review Kosovo’s declaration, arguing that Kosovo wasn’t in proper standing to split from the country.

In a ruling made in late July, 2010, the ICJ agreed that Kosovo did have the right. Specifically, ICJ president Hisashi Owada said that international law “contains no prohibition on declarations of independence.” There is very little precedence on declarations of independence within the UN, and the court is said to have consulted the breakup of the USSR for help coming to a decision.

How the decision will reverberate

The International Court of Justice ruling that Kosovo’s declaration of freedom is within international law will probably have wide-ranging effects. The ruling is being celebrated by separatist movements around the world. Many embattled governments are vowing that they will continue fighting these separations. It is likely the ICJ ruling will help Kosovo build the 100 supporting countries necessary for UN recognition, though the region will be in dispute long into the future.

Other recent posts by bryanh