Kosovo: Independence declaration is the traditional way, US law professor says

01 January 2008

Tags : news - Kosovo

dtt-net.com - Kosovo satisfies all of the prerequisites under long-established international law doctrine for becoming an independent state, and for recognition as such by other states. A UN Security Council resolution would be an unusual pathway to Kosovo statehood, according to the American law professor Henry Perritt.

Interviewed by: Lulzim Mjeku

-Do you see real commitment to get out from political and economic limbo with having US recognition of Kosovo state?

PERRITT: I am encouraged that the United States and key members of the European Union seem prepared to recognize Kosovo's independence after the new government declares independence in coordination with the EU and the US.

Of course, Serbia and Russia are using every diplomatic trick they can think of to derail this, but I am hopeful that the momentum now is sufficient that it will happen likely in January. Recognition by various states likely would occur only over time, probably spread out over several months, with the US and Britain (and maybe France and Germany) being the first.

-European Union is preparing its members to act as Union members and to take a decision on Kosovo status. How do you see the EU engagement on the issue?

PERRITT: My impression is that the plan is for new Kosovo government to declare independence with recognition by individual states to begin immediately thereafter. There continue to be forces within the EU, however, and from Russia and Serbia, to delay the process further.

Serbia's strategy, joined by Russia, always has had delay at its core. I am hopeful that the futility and danger of further delay is now exposed adequately that the leaders of Europe and the US will go ahead despite the continued presence of doubters.

-How do you describe the genesis and development of this political question, as a colonial issue, sui generis, or something else?

PERRITT: The genesis of the question of independence for Kosovo reaches back centuries, but friends of Kosovo spend too much time and energy talking about history, which bores the people in the international community who need to be persuaded to support independence.

The relevant points are (1) that the KLA fought a guerilla war for independence against scorched-earth abuses by the Serbian regime--and Serbia was unable to suppress this insurgency; (2) Serbia forfeited its right to govern Kosovo by systematic human rights violations against Kosovo's population, aimed at least in part at driving the majority Albanian population from the territory; (3) the UN Security Council, in Resolution 1244, recognized that Serbian sovereignty could no longer be exercised in Kosovo, although continued Serbian sovereignty was to be acknowledged as a purely formal matter while Kosovo was governed by UNMIK and final status was worked out; and (4) the UN, through President Martti Ahtisaari, worked out an excellent plan for supervised independence, ensuring protection of the legitimate interests of Kosovo's Serb population.

How do you see the process of Kosovo statehood from the point of view of an American lawyer?

PERRITT: Kosovo satisfies all of the prerequisites under long-established international law doctrine for becoming an independent state, and for recognition as such by other states. A declaration of independence, followed by recognition, is the traditional way that a territory becomes an independent state. A Security Council resolution not only is unnecessary; it would be an unusual pathway to statehood.


Professor Henry H. Perritt, Jr. from Chicago-Kent College of Law is the author of more than 70 law review articles and 15 books on international relations and law.

He is author of a forthcoming book about the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA. Together with Kai Sauer, Senior Political Adviser to Martti Ahtisaari, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Future Status Process for Kosovo, are co-authoring a book about the final status process for Kosovo.



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