The Advisory Opinion on Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence: Hopes, Disappointments and Its Relevance to Crimea
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The international community anxiously awaited delivery of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Kosovo’s declaration of independence, hoping it would clarify the controversial right of self-determination and the right of secession. Although it was hailed by many as a confirmation of both rights, the advisory opinion was disappointing regarding that part of the analysis which was based on general international law. The ICJ interpreted the question posed in a very narrow and formalistic way. It concluded that declarations of independence (not their consequences) are not in violation of international law, but it did not rule that they are in accordance with international law, as was requested in the posed question. The ICJ refused to examine whether there is a positive entitlement to secession under international law. Although Kosovo and its supporters claimed that the case of Kosovo is unique and will not set a precedent, Russia used the case of Kosovo and the advisory opinion to justify the so-called referendum in Crimea and the subsequent incorporation of Crimea into Russia. However, the situation in Crimea is only superficially comparable to Kosovo and the advisory opinion gives little or no support in the case of Crimea.
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