Secession in Theory and Practice: The Case of Kosovo and Beyond
Goettingen Journal of International Law, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 531-587, 2010
57 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2010 Last revised: 8 Sep 2010
Date Written: August 1, 2010
Since 17 February 2008 - the day of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia - it has become rather pressing to understand whether this act has legal precedential value and hence what its consequences are. This article carves out the place of secession in international law by appeal to fundamental principles and legal doctrine. It also explores major socio-political aspects in Kosovo’s history, from the battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389 to Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) that set up the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). By following these two analytical paths Kosovo is exposed as a case of remedial secession and thus as a potential legal precedent. While the elements of remedial secession are gathered, it is argued that states deprived this instance of practice of its precedential value and made it a legally insignificant act. In other words, the international community missed a rare opportunity to clarify the concept of remedial secession and to reassert its preventive force as a non-traditional human rights protection mechanism.
Keywords: Kosovo, Remedial Secession, Right to Self-Determination, Human Rights, territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence, Advisory Opinion, ICJ
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