Kosovo independence ruled legal by International Court of Justice

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Judges from the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled Thursday that Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 was not in violation of international law.

Despite protests from Serbia, which claimed that Kosovo's independence threatened its sovereignty and was illegal under international law, ten of the ICJ's fourteen judges supported the non-binding motion declaring Kosovo's independence legal. The move was supported by the United States and most European countries, while other countries, including Russia and China, opposed the ruling.

In its opinion on the matter, the court said that it "considers that general international law does not contain any prohibition on declarations of independence. Accordingly, it concludes that [Kosovo's] declaration of independence on the 17th of February 2008 did not violate general international law."

Even before the ruling, 69 members of the UN, out of a total of 192, had recognized Kosovo's independence, and observers say that more may do so in light of the ICJ's ruling.

Kosovo's president, Fatmir Sejdiu, said that "[t]he decision finally removes all doubts that countries which still do not recognise the republic of Kosovo could have," while Serbian president Boris Tadic said that "Serbia will never recognise the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo."