Kosovo Legal Experts: 1244 Provides For Independence

In a front-page story in Koha Ditore, Kosovo legal experts say that the declaration of Kosovo’s independence could be done even with UNSC Resolution 1244 still in place.  According to former communist leader and analyst Azem Vllasi, 1244 “does not consider the sovereignty of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia as something constant and untouchable, and as such it does not constitute an obstacle for the declaration of Kosovo’s independence.”

Ilir Dugolli, expert on constitutional matters, said that “if the UN Security Council does not pave way to the declaration of Kosovo’s independence through a new resolution, then 1244 will remain in force until a new decision is made.”

He went on to say, “Practically, the declaration of independence by most countries in the last decade was done without a green light from the UN Security Council. This happened in the case of countries that emerged from the former Yugoslaviaand those from the former Soviet Union.”  According to him, in the current circumstances, Serbiacould pose an obstacle for extending the mandate of the OSCE in Kosovo.

There is, though, some sticky language in Resolution 1244 that doesn’t make it so clear cut as the Kosovo legal experts claim.  For instance, here’s some language in 1244:

a)  “Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2”;

b) “Authorizes the Secretary-General, with the assistance of relevant international organizations, to establish an international civil presence in Kosovo in order to provide an interim administration for Kosovo under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and which will provide transitional administration while establishing and overseeing the development of provisional democratic self-governing institutions to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo”;

c) “A political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework agreement providing for substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region, and the demilitarization of UCK. Negotiations between the parties for a settlement should not delay or disrupt the establishment of democratic self-governing institutions.”

None of the language in 1244 suggests that Kosovo can “legally” declare independence absent a new resolution.  Of course, what happens when, for one reason or the other, a country blocks a security council resolution?  You have unilateral independence without a resolution.  There are two separate issues.  One does not prevent the other from happening.


3 thoughts on “Kosovo Legal Experts: 1244 Provides For Independence

  1. As communicated elsewhere:

    When looked at in its entirety, 1244 isn’t a directive for Kosovo becoming independent.

    – It specifically states that Kosovo is a part of Yugoslavia. Serbia is internationally recognized as the successor state to Yugoslavia. In Communist and post Communist Yugoslavia – Kosovo was part of the Serb republic.
    – 1244 calls for a return of refugees, as well as of Serb military and government bodies to Kosovo. This has yet to happen.

    – In legalese, the 1244 clause about taking into “full consideration” the unsigned Rambouillet diktat isn’t a green light for independence. It simply means that aspects of Rambouillet can perhaps be considered. Prior to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the Clinton Administration and Kosovo Albanian nationalists wrote a clause in Rambouillet which would’ve (if signed) permitted Kosovo to vote on independence after three years from the accord’s signing. I specifically recall noted American University law professor Paul Williams bragging about his having written that segment on Geraldo Rivera’s MSNBC cable news show. No one questioned Williams’ objectivity as a then adviser to the Kosovo Albanian nationalist leaders. Madeleine Albright was quoted as having said that Rambouillet was written in a way that was unacceptable to the Serbs. An obvious pretext for starting the war that was to be.

    – The “final outcome” status for Kosovo is stated towards the end of 1244. It relates to how Kosovo should be governed as a part of Serbia. What other logical way can be otherwise suggested when the very same document recognizes Kosovo as part of Serbia, while stating that refugees, Serb government and military bodies should all return to that province?

    Bill Clinton’s UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke leads a pack of Democratic Party affiliated foreign policy politicos advocating Kosovo independence. They argue how Kosovo will become more violent if independence isn’t granted. Is this rational not a blueprint for encouraging violence elsewhere by effectively saying that peaceful means will not get the same consideration? Why should independence be granted to a group threatening violence? Isn’t such an acquiesce a support for law of the jungle principles?

    Holbrooke claims that Kosovo is the “special case” for independence unlike some other disputed former Communist bloc territories. On this point, Lavrov can easily outdo him by noting how Trans-Dniester has a much better case for independence than Kosovo.

    The lines have been drawn. Other nations have expressed sympathy with the Russian and Serb position. At the same time, the vestiges of neo-liberal and neo-conservative antipathy towards Serbia remains a strong guiding factor in American foreign policy. The art of diplomacy seeks a middle course to such a dispute. This would lead one to believe that a compromise of sorts could be in the works. Writing in The Washington Times (March 20), former Serbian Unity Congress President Michael Djordjevich sees the possibility of a partition of Kosovo.

    Bosnia, in a way, already serves as a precedent for such an arrangement and in this case it means that the Bosnian Serb republic “Republika Srpska” (RS) has a greater case for independence than Kosovo. The signed Dayton Accords governing Bosnia states that each of the two established Bosnian entities can establish their own parallel relationships with other states after a four year period from the document’s signing in 1995. Unlike Kosovo: in RS, there’s no noticeable ethnic violence, with many refugees having returned to its territory.

    What’s really spooky about all of this is how Anglo-American mass media outlets at large haven’t fully explained all of the valid particulars related to opposing Kosovo’s independence. This kind of a “free press” makes it easy for officialdom to hustle policies like the “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia.

  2. Earlier this year the Kosovars decided to unilaterally proclaim the Republic of Kosovo. The 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence was an act of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government Assembly of Kosovo, adopted on 17 February 2008, which declared Kosovo to be independent from Serbia. Serbs, for whom Kosovo is an ancestral homeland and the site of many important Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries, believe that the area should have remained under Serbian sovereignty. Broader opposition to separating Kosovo from Serbia stems from concern about the potential precedent that would be set by redrawing boundaries along ethnic lines and the likely impact this move would have on the integrity of the borders of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Critically evaluate the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence. In so doing make sure you have included discussion on the legality or otherwise of the unilateral declaration as well as regional and global implications that this potential precedent may have set.

  3. Dear Michael,

    Thanks for visiting. Sounds a bit like an exam question.

    Please browse the blog here. I have critically evaluated the legality and political consequences of such a declaration. There are numerous posts under the “Kosovo” category.

    Let me know if you have trouble finding the posts.

    Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

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