An annotation by Paula Ajumobi, Staff Editor PDF version available here. I. Introduction In the past couple of years, Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain with approximately 7.5 million people, has come to the forefront of international news because of its…
by Graham Dumas (J.D. Candidate 2011)
Note: This is a cross-post from my Russia-specific blog, Onion Domes and Oligarchs.
That yesterday’s advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo, was decided on extremely narrow grounds has already been noted elsewhere in the blogosphere. Further, its status as an advisory opinion of course means that it is non-binding (though widely respected) and pertains only to the question asked of the Court by the U.N. General Assembly.
Nevertheless, it may be interesting to apply to the context of the frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union some of the principles discussed in and generated by the Court’s Kosovo opinion. After all, political leaders in Moscow have frequently (and threateningly) cited Kosovo as a precedent for the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, despite the obvious and numerous differences between these cases. A brief bit of analysis after the jump.
The International Court of Justice today held that international law did not prohibit Kosovo’s declaration of independence, while sidestepping the larger issue of Kosovo’s statehood. All of the opinions can be found here, but we are happy to host the opinion of the court on this JILP Forum, since the ICJ’s site has been difficult to access as of late.
In a way, as Chris Borgen notes at Opinio Juris, this result should not come as a surprise, since international law generally does not seem to have much to say about declarations of independence. The Court sidesteps the trickier problem of the lex specialis created by S.C. Res. 1244 (and the subsequent Constitutional Framework adopted by UNMIK) by holding that the declaration did not constitute an act of one of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government. This lays the groundwork for the Court to conclude that the declaration essentially took place outside the scope of S.C. Res. 1244 and the framework. Preliminary thoughts after the jump.