Wednesday, October 8, 2008

UN refers Kosovo independence to world court

It seems that Kosovo's independence has now become a case for the courts.

In a close vote the UN general assembly decided to refer the matter of Kosovo's independence to the International Court of Justice (the ICJ). In February of this year Kosovo abandoned the UN-led negotiation of its status within Serbia and declared independence. It was quickly recognized by the United States and European powers like France, Germany and the UK. But Serbia has maintained that the whole process went against international law. Now the ICJ will have a chance to give its opinion.

The UK's ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, spoke out against the UN resolution saying that it was politically motivated on Serbia’s part and was only "designed to slow down Kosovo's emergence as a widely recognized independent nation."

But only about a quarter of the UN's members recognize Kosovo as an independent country (not exactly wide recognition), and nearly half of that number are from Europe. Serbia and Russia have bitterly opposed Kosovo's independence, saying it is a blatant violation of international law.

What's not clear from the UN resolution is what happens if the ICJ decides that Kosovo's independence violated international law, if the ICJ would void their independence and rule they were again part of Serbia. No date has been set for the ICJ to review the case.
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