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Published by: Incitation on Feb 24, 2011
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Kosovo's Declaration of Independence Is Within Law, U.N. Rules.

Section: Foreign Desk PRAGUE -- Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 did not violate international law, the United Nations' highest court said Thursday in a ruling that Kosovo heralded as a victory but that legal experts warned could spur separatist movements around the world. Legal experts said that while the International Court of Justice had ruled that Kosovo's declaration of independence was legal, it had avoided saying that the state of Kosovo was legal under international law, a narrow and carefully calibrated compromise that they said could allow both sides to declare victory in a dispute that remains raw even 11 years after the war there. Political analysts said the advisory opinion, passed in a 10-to-4 vote by the court judges, is likely to spur other countries to recognize Kosovo's independence. Of the 192 countries in the United Nations General Assembly, so far only 69, including the United States and a majority of European Union nations, have recognized Kosovo. Reading the nonbinding opinion, whose political consequences could reverberate far beyond Kosovo, Hisashi Owada, president of the International Court of Justice, said that international law contained no ''prohibition on declarations of independence'' and consequently that Kosovo's declaration ''did not violate international law.'' Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership welcomed the court's decision. ''This is a great day for Kosovo, and my message to the government of Serbia is, 'Come and talk to us,' '' Kosovo's foreign minister, Skender Hyseni, said after leaving the court, The Associated Press reported. But Serbia was adamant that it would never recognize what it had previously called a false state, while Russia, one of its staunchest allies, insisted that the court's decision did not provide a legal basis for Kosovo's independence. The Serbian foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, said the ruling could make separatist movements elsewhere ''tempted to write declarations of independence.'' The State Department said the ruling was ''a judgment we support,'' according to The Associated Press. ''Now it is time for Europe to unite behind a common future.'' James Ker-Lindsay, a Balkan expert at the London School of Economics, said the court had trod carefully in weighing the right of a people to self-determination over the right of a sovereign state to territorial integrity, and had decided to sidestep the issue altogether.

referred Kosovo's declaration to the court. based in The Hague.'' he said. ''The court invariably is very prudent and avoids making political decisions. revoked Kosovo's autonomy in 1989 and fiercely repressed ethnic Albanians. marked the culmination of a showdown between Serbia and the West in which the United States and a majority of European nations said Serbia's violent repression of Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians under a former Serbian president. the United Nations General Assembly. the former Serbian leader.'' said Bert Barnhoorn. But in hearings last December in The Hague. China was so impassioned that it made its first oral pleading to the court since the 1960s.C.split almost evenly between countries that have recognized Kosovo's independence and those that have not -.have a history of narrow and conservative judgments. at Serbia's urging. an expert at the Asser Institute for International Law. Last year. Major European powers and the United States have been at pains to characterize Kosovo as a special case that should not serve as a precedent for other groups hoping to declare independence.argued forcefully that Kosovo should remain a part of Serbia. Slobodan Milosevic. Abkhazia and Transnistria. 17. . NATO intervened in 1999 to halt Mr.''It has essentially said that Kosovo's legitimacy will be conferred by the countries that recognize it rather than by the court. something that would destabilize many regions of the world.all of which face secessionist movements in their own borders -. But legal experts stressed that the court's studious avoidance of ruling on the legal status of Kosovo as a state had been calculated to avoid encouraging nationalist movements and left the issue of a territory's independence at the discretion of the countries that chose to recognize it. Hearings began in December. Somaliland. Some turned to armed rebellion. ''If the I. Russia and China -. a policy organization in The Hague. Milosevic. Analysts said that the legal legitimacy conferred on the independence declaration by the court could have profound consequences for global geopolitics by potentially being seized upon by secessionist movements in places as diverse as northern Cyprus.J. had forfeited Serbia's right to rule the territory. Mr. The panel's judges -. 2008. South Ossetia. Spain. Nagorno-Karabakh. opinion establishes a new principle. Serbia and its ally Russia countered that the declaration of independence by Kosovo was a reckless breach of international law that would inspire separatists everywhere. who make up most of its population. an entire process of creating new states would open throughout the world. Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia on Feb.'' President Boris Tadic of Serbia told the Tanjug news agency before the ruling. Milosevic's violent response to the rebels.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in February 2008. Kosovo and British flags in Pristina on Thursday after the U.N. Passengers waved the United States. .Final ~~~~~~~~ By DAN BILEFSKY.GETTY IMAGES). PHOTOS: Kosovo Albanian children played on a bridge dividing the Serbian north and the Albanian south of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica on Thursday. (PHOTOGRAPH BY LAURA BOUSHNAK/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE -.After the war ended. upheld Kosovo's declaration of independence. Marlise Simons contributed reporting from Paris. and Stephen Castle from Brussels. the United Nations administered Kosovo for eight years. (PHOTOGRAPH BY HAZIR REKA/REUTERS) Late Edition . After the failure of a negotiated settlement. during which time it lingered in a legal limbo.

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