'Status-Neutrality' of International Organizations: A Mission Impossible with Regard to Self-Proclaimed Separatist Entities?

33 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017

Date Written: September 29, 2017


Status-neutrality is a specific case of impartiality, where international organizations take a neutral position on the status of a self-proclaimed separatist entity. The reasons for choosing a status-neutral policy are the States’ discretionary power to decide on State recognition, the member States’ lacking consensus about the final status of the territorial entity and the international organizations’ mandate to achieve practical solutions in the dispute settlement. The normative content of the term, namely the obligations with regard to impartiality are the negative duty not to recognize the statehood of the territorial entity or to make pronouncements on its current or future status, and, positively, the obligations to achieve pragmatic solutions, to assist the implementation of standards in the given region and to seek for the consent of both parties. However, even if international organizations comply with the normative content of status-neutrality, they face various accusations of partiality. As the precedents mainly related to Kosovo show, direct contacts with self-proclaimed authorities, the aid and assistance provided for the entity and the silence of the international organizations with regards to unilateral acts of the self-proclaimed authorities are a priori conform to international law. Nevertheless, the impartial conduct of international organizations cannot prevent the factual consequences they have on the stabilization of self-proclaimed separatist entities.

Keywords: Neutrality, international organisations, impartiality, separatist movements, de facto authorities, silence of international law

Suggested Citation

Berkes, Antal, 'Status-Neutrality' of International Organizations: A Mission Impossible with Regard to Self-Proclaimed Separatist Entities? (September 29, 2017). European Society of International Law (ESIL) 2017 Research Forum (Granada), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3045259 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3045259

Antal Berkes (Contact Author)

University of Liverpool ( email )

Liverpool, L69 7ZA
United Kingdom
01482466582 (Phone)

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