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International System tests itself on a national question

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 1 December 2009 10:47 No Comment]

A set of countries in the International System initiate a dangerous argument that national questions cannot be resolved resulting in secession through democratic means in peaceful times, but can be decided only through violence in war times. A case is now being heard at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which Serbia, backed by Russia and China, argues that Kosovo’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) is an ‘ethnically motivated secession’ that took place 9 years after the war during ‘peacetime’ and thus is invalid.

A 15-judge panel of the ICJ, based at The Hague in the Netherlands, begins hearings on Tuesday. The case, seeking advisory opinion of the ICJ, is heard at Serbia’s request.

The hearings would last for 9 days and the final opinion of the UN’s highest court is expected in a few months.

63 countries have recognised Kosovo’s UDI. However, the UN was unable to sanction the UDI as China and Russia in the UN Security Council opposed the declaration of Kosovo’s independence.

"Advisory opinions are not binding, but carry the authority of the court as the principal U.N. judicial organ," Reuters reported Sunday.

Meanwhile, ICJ’s president CJ Hisashi Owada, in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, has said that the advisory opinion concerning the legality of the Kosovo Albanian UDI would not be "a clear yes or no".

The countries that have recognised the UDI and those not recognising it, both refer to the International Law.

30 countries are scheduled to make statements, including the United States, Russia, and China. A major duel is expected at the Court on December 8 between Russia and the United States.

The unilateral proclamation of independence by the temporary institutions on February 17, 2008 was an "ethnically motivated effort of secession which represents a violation of international law," argues Vuk Jeremic, the Serbian Foreign Minister.

Serbia seems to place its case also arguing that one cannot declare secession from an internationally recognised state in ‘peace time’. Kosovo declared independence nine years after NATO bombed Serbia for 11 weeks in an effort to push Serbian forces out of the then province of Kosovo, accusing Serbia of atrocities against ethnic Albanians. The atrocities carried out in the name of a ‘counter-insurgency’ war had claimed 10,000 lives.

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni, who is heading the Kosovar delegation was quoted by the daily Express as saying that Kosovo will be presenting "strong arguments for the defense of Kosovo’s right to be an independent and sovereign state, and for the defense of the political will of the people of Kosovo for statehood."

On 15 November 2009, Kosovo held its first elections since the UDI in February 2008. The turnout reached 45 per cent.

[Full Coverage]

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