Romania at the ICJ: Unilateral secession must be forbidden

Romania argued on Thursday in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague that the Kosovo Albanian unilateral secession from Serbia was illegal.

(KosovoCompromise Staff) Friday, December 11, 2009

Its representative Bogdan Aurescu argued the necessity for the Court in Hague to not limit itself strictly to the question raised by the General Assembly - whether or not the declaration of independence of the autonomous administration temporary institutions from Kosovo complies with the international law - and stressed that the real judicial problem the Court needs to solve was, in Romania's vision, to evaluate if the international law forbids or not the creation of a new state through unilateral secession, in the circumstances of the examined case. 

Aurescu showed that in order to accept that the idea of a unilateral secession would be allowed by the international law, that the territorial integrity would only apply to several states and that the non-state actors would not be obliged to respect it would entail the fact that any territory part of any state could claim independence: "(...) This would lead to extremely severe consequences for the international judicial law. This would mean that any province, district, county or even the smallest settlement from any border of any state would have the international law's permission to declare its independence and to obtain secession. (...) This conclusion cannot be accepted. The interdiction of the unilateral secession is one of the (...) territorial integrity elements". The Romanian delegation argued that the territorial and sovereignty principles represent the fundamental pillars of the international law and offer no derogation.

The Romanian state secretary also said that that declaring Kosovo independent breeches UN Security Council relevant resolutions, which rule that the final Kosovo state should be based on a politic process supported by the negotiations of the two involved parties. "The Security Council could not have ruled, in any case, a state to accept the secession of part of its territory or lacking an agreement of the interested parts", the Romanian representative underlined. 

Costin Dineascu carried on Romania's pleading and demonstrated that the nations' right to self-determination could be enforced only in its internal dimension (developing the political, economic, social, cultural life within an existent state), but without affecting the state's territorial integrity. 

The so-called secession-remedy, meaning an exception to this rule, namely the case when locals of a region from an existent state are subject to serious breaching in human rights, is a controversial institution and contested by the international law. And the situation of the Kosovo province at the "critic date" of 17 February 2008, when the unilateral independence was proclaimed, was not of the nature to justify the "secession-remedy". 

Eventually, Dinescu draw the conclusions to underline Romania's vision on the issue: Kosovo's independence doesn't comply with the international law