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The Effects of the ICJ Decision on Kosovo (if any) on the “Frozen Conflicts” of the Former Soviet Union

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.

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ICJ Rules on Kosovo Independence

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.

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Implications of European De-Integration for International Law

By Matthew Turk

The G20 Sum­mit

At the recent G20 Sum­mit, Euro­pean lead­ers butted heads with the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion by oppos­ing fur­ther stim­u­lus spend­ing and call­ing for greater fis­cal “aus­ter­i­ty.”  The move to fis­cal tight­en­ing, even dur­ing unsteady eco­nom­ic times, reveals the pro­found affect that the Greek debt cri­sis has had on pol­i­cy­mak­ers in oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries.  In par­tic­u­lar, it indi­cates a com­mon con­cern that grow­ing pub­lic debt pos­es near-term chal­lenges to the con­tin­ued via­bil­i­ty of an eco­nom­i­cal­ly inte­grat­ed Euro­pean Union.  The poten­tial unrav­el­ing of the legal-insti­tu­tion­al struc­tures of Euro­pean inte­gra­tion uproots assump­tions about inter­na­tion­al law held by com­men­ta­tors across the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum.

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Making Amends

Over at Opinio Juris this morning, my good friend and colleague Scott Paul introduced the Making Amends Campaign, which is led by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC).  Scott and CIVIC are working to develop a general practice…

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Thoughts on the Targeted Killings Report

By Ben Heath

To con­tin­ue the dis­cus­sion of Pro­fes­sor Philip Alston’s report on tar­get­ed killings, I can imag­ine no bet­ter dis­cus­sion on the self-defense ratio­nale for drone strikes than that pre­sent­ed by Marko Milanovic at the EJIL blog.  (At Opinio Juris, Ken­neth Ander­son promis­es a response, which will most cer­tain­ly pro­vide for inter­est­ing debate.)

I also ful­ly agree with Milanovic’s cri­tique of Alston’s asser­tion that, out­side of armed con­flict, “the use of drones for tar­get­ed killing is almost nev­er like­ly to be legal.”  This state­ment is unnces­sar­i­ly con­clu­so­ry: there should be some lim­it­ed room for these strikes in the law enforce­ment par­a­digm of human rights, pro­vid­ed that the tar­get pos­es a sig­nif­i­cant dan­ger, that no oppor­tu­ni­ty for cap­ture exists, etc.  One imag­ines that this might be the case in coun­tries where the gov­ern­ment holds only loose con­trol over wide swaths of ter­ri­to­ry.  But, to be sure, drone strikes on the New Jer­sey Turn­pike are almost cer­tain­ly ille­gal.

I would not pre­sume to step fur­ther into such well-cov­ered ground.  Instead, I will use this space to high­light some oth­er aspects of the report, while rec­og­niz­ing that these are def­i­nite­ly side­notes to the major issues.

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