Reflections on the ICJ Advisory Opinion on Kosovo: Interpreting Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)
THE LAW AND POLITICS OF THE KOSOVO ADVISORY OPINION, Michael Wood & Marko Milanovic eds., Oxford University Press, Forthcoming
44 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2013
In its 2010 advisory opinion on Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo, the International Court of Justice was called upon to interpret the meaning and legal effects of Security Council Resolution 1244, which had authorized the deployment of international military forces and civilian administration into Kosovo in the aftermath of NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign against Serbia. The Court’s treatment of Resolution 1244 entailed a rich mosaic of issues, some of which were specific to the situation of Kosovo, but others that have ramifications for the interpretation and application of Security Council resolutions more generally. While doubts and disagreements with the Court’s decision can be fairly expressed, the Court rather systematically addressed the principal legal arguments placed before it, and there is nothing about the opinion that operates outside the realm of plausible judicial reasoning. Though the Court was faced with the difficult situation of an ambiguous resolution and a divided Council, as well as blocs of states with diametrically opposed views, the Court assumed its responsibility of interpreting whether the resolution barred Kosovo’s declaration of independence and answered clearly the question placed before it by the General Assembly, without unleashing any apparent adverse consequences for the United Nations, for the Balkans, or for the international rule of law more generally.
Keywords: Kosovo, Serbia, Security Council, United Nations, declaration of independence, self-determination, territorial integrity
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