The Kosovo Crisis (1999)
International Law and the Use of Force: A Case-Based Approach, pp. 594-622, Olivier Corten and Tom Ruys, eds, Oxford University Press, 2018
32 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2017 Last revised: 21 Feb 2019
Date Written: April 27, 2017
This contribution discusses in some detail the forcible intervention by NATO against Serbia in 1999 in response to the situation in Kosovo. It sets out the facts and background of the crisis, along with the legal positions of the main protagonists and the reactions of the international community. It then proceeds to survey the debates surrounding the legality of the intervention and to assess the soundness of the legal justifications put forward by states and authors. Finally, it discusses the precedential value of the intervention, especially in view of claims of existence or emergence of a rule or principle of international law permitting forcible unilateral use of force in response to humanitarian crises. The contribution concludes that the NATO intervention has significant precedential value, despite the claims of even some of the states that took part in it that it should not become a precedent. But its precedential value is precisely that of confirming the unlawfulness of forcible unilateral humanitarian intervention.
Keywords: Kosovo, Serbia, use of force, humanitarian intervention, Security Council, authorisation, chapter VII, UN Charter, humanitarian catastrophe
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