Tuesday, December 1, 2009

International Court of Justice to hear separation case

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the International Court of Justice is preparing to hear a case as to whether Kosovo's separation from Serbia is legal according to international law. While the decision of the court is not legally binding, it is likely to affect the decisions of nations that have not yet recognized Kosovo as independent.

I am not familiar with the structure of Serbia's government, but suspect that Serbia is a unitary state, in which case Kosovo cannot legally "secede" as we understand secession in federated states. In a strictly legal sense, Kosovo can ask Serbia to grant it autonomy; or the people of Serbia and Kosovo can elect to allow Kosovan independence (which is probably very unrealistic politically), or Kosovo can incite what is correctly known as a "civil war" to gain its independence; but as the law is now understood, it cannot "secede".

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