Kosovo’s government is hoping for wider international recognition after UN judges backed the country’s self-declared independence. The International Court of Justice said the Balkan state did not violate international law in formally breaking away from Serbia two years ago.
Some countries fear the ruling could prompt separatist moves in their own backyards, but experts say it does not set a precedent.
Jan Wouters, a professor of international law at the University of Leuven, said the ICJ made its decision according to very specific criteria.
“Given the legal situation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244, which provided for a kind of interim, international administration from 1999 until February 2008 when they declared themselves independent, the court has said: ‘look this is a very specific situation and you definitely should not deduce any form of entitlement for other sub-state units’,” he said.
There have been celebrations in Kosovo, but in the north where Serbs form the majority, many are angry. Serbia, which lost Kosovo after a Nato bombing campaign, says it will never recognise its independence. Belgrade plans to argue its case before the UN General Assembly, and to seek a compromise with Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders.
Kosovo hopes UN ruling will bring wider recognition