ICJ hearings end

The nine-day hearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Kosovo case have ended in The Hague with the last of the hearings by the representatives of Vietnam and Venezuela, who defended Serbia's position that the proclamation was in violation of international law.

(KosovoCompromise Staff) Monday, December 14, 2009

Vietnam's representative Nguyen Thi Hoang Anh said that UNSCR 1244 is binding for all UN member states and that it represents a basis for the solution to the Kosovo problem.

This resolution confirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ) and Serbia, and determines that Kosovo can have broad autonomy, but not the status of an independent state, she argued.

Nguyen emphasized that Resolution 1244 envisages that a final solution to the status of Kosovo can be achieved solely through a negotiating process, with agreement from both sides, and that only the UN Security Council can determine when this process has been completed.

Addressing the claims heard in the court that the "people of Kosovo" had a right to self-determination, and therefore independence declaration, the Vietnamese representative said that this principle is not dominant compared to the bases of international law, and listed those as preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries.

Venezuela's representative Alejandro Fleming addressed the ICJ judged today to say that the self-determination principle applies only to colonies, while Kosovo has never been either a colony or an independent state.

The (ethnic) Albanian population of Kosovo enjoys all minority rights within Serbia, and there is no basis for independence to be declared, he stated.

Fleming went on to say that former UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari's appraisal that all possibilities to arrive at a solution through negotiations had been exhausted could also not be considered a basis to make the declaration, nor could his recommendation that Kosovo should become independent, "in order to strengthen the stability in the region".

How could it be that negotiations can cause instability, but not a decision made by one side which was dissatisfied during the negotiations, Fleming wondered.

According to the Venezuelan representative, Resolution 1244 calls for reaching a political solution and excludes any possibility for Kosovo to secede, since that would violate Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

At the end of the sitting, judges Abdul Koroma, Mohammed Bennouna and Augusto Cancado Trindade asked the participants in the hearing to send written answers to the court by Dec. 22 regarding the claims heard during the proceedings that international law does not prohibit secession, as well as those regarding the promises made by the participants in Kosovo's 2007 parliamentary elections that they would declare independence, and the provisions of the 1999 Rambouillet agreement.

Serbia argued before the court that the ethnic Albanian proclamation was in violation of international law, and was joined in this stance by Russia, China, Cyprus, Romania, Spain, Argentina, Vietnam, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil.

The Kosovo Albanian representatives, who took part in the proceedings as "the authors of the unilateral declaration of independence", argued to the contrary and were supported by UK, U.S., Albania, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Holland, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Bulgaria, Jordan, and Croatia.

Burundi's representative also took part in the hearing, to say that Kosovo will continue to exist as an entity regardless of the court's decision.

That decision is expected by mid-2010 at the latest.