Why Kosovo’s independence bid is (Not) unique

CS Monitor today includes an interesting story about pending recognition of Kosovo’s independence. The article is built around the theme that Kosovo’s bid is somehow unique, that Kosovo has emerged without the imprimatur of the United Nations Security Council.
News flash to the Monitor: the UN Security Council is hardly the sole arbiter of international legitimacy in the world today. International “law” is not equivalent to Security Council “votes.”
Kosovo’s appearance as a new state owes to a long struggle for recognition from as much of the world as it could obtain. Yet Kosovo lies at a fault-line of great power tensions. Russia, not surprisingly, vehemently opposes the further partition of the former Yugoslavia, along with other (but not all) Slavic populated states. With Russia holding a veto at the UN Security Council, it’s of course not surprising that the Security Council could not bestow its institutional approbation on Kosovo.
To legalists who narrowly view the UNSC as the sole “guarantor of legality among nations,” Kosovo’s emergence will be “illegal.” Russia condemnation of Kosovo’s “independence” as “illegal” is something other than “candid,” when it alone is the reason for the technical basis of that claim.
To be sure, the UN Security Council, when it can agree, remains an important indicator of international norms and rules. But when consensus fails, the battle for international legitimacy goes on at other levels.
Kosovo’s case for international recognition outside the UNSC was won in the broader battles for international opinion, what Thomas Jefferson, when reflecting in 1825 upon America’s own revolutionary struggle, referred to as “the tribunal of the world.” Serbia’s claims to retain “sovereignty” over Kosovo were weakened by its own flagrant lack of a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” It now reaps the fruits of that disregard for the opinions of a “candid world.” Huffing about “international law” won’t change that.

6 thoughts on “Why Kosovo’s independence bid is (Not) unique”

  1. I think the process of securing independence for Kosovo has been handled poorly. Milosevic may have been a bloodstained despot. But he’s been gone for years. This independence bid is happening only months after the independence declaration of Montenegro. I’m concerned that these rapid succession breaks are needlessly causing the Serbian populace to feel humiliation. That sense of humiliation risks encouraging extremist elements within Serbia. The independence bid should’ve been handled more gradually, allowing for a stronger sense of mutual respect to grow between Serbians and the rest of Europe.
    Also, don’t a majority of Kosovars want to merge with Albania? Why aren’t they being allowed to pursue that option? And should Republica Srpska then be allowed to merge with Serbia? The Serbs could’ve looked at that merger as a compensation for the departure of Montenegro and Kosovo.

  2. I dunno. Sure, the Milosevic regime treated Kosovo appallingly (though quite how appallingly is lost in the fogs of war, and somewhat open to question) but in general the Yugoslav state treated Kosovo quite reasonably. Until Milosovic, Kosovo enjoyed an autonomy which would be the envy of many other potential ‘breakaway’ regions in Europe. Given that Milosevic is dead, I don’t see why the actions of his long vanished regime should be an excuse to grant statehood for Kosovo. While the Serbs are far too war-weary to respond right now, it seems highly unlikely that they will simply forget about what they consider the birthplace of their nation. I would not be at all surpised if there are further wars over Kosovo within the lifetime of many posters here.

  3. It is disingenuous to treat this issue as if it originated in a national uprising and is leading towards soveregnty: nothing of the sort occured, the KLA was a contra style army, trained and armed to invade and subvert Yugoslavia. As to “sovereignty” Kosovo is unlikely to have much of that-it is a dependency of NATO with a vast base full of troops with extra territorial legal privileges.
    As it happens NATO is acting in bad faith here, as it has been doing for years in Yugoslavia, having agreed to the territorial integrity of Serbia.
    Anyone who thinks that the Serbs will give up their claim to Kosovo ought to spend a little more time in the history section of a library; giving Kosovo to the Albaniam mafia is not going to put an end to this question, it will simply add another few years and thousands more deaths to the problem.
    There is another aspect to the situation which people seem not to mention much. Here a check of Russian literature might be helpful: this is an affront to all the slavonic peoples. It will greatly increase the popularity of pan-slav movements.
    Just how many enemies do you want?

  4. This is not independence, it is a land grab by colonial powers, masked as independence in order to legalize it.
    From the CP article linked above.
    ..there is no plan to permit Kosovo’s Albanians to run their own affairs. ….ultimate power will reside with an internationally-appointed bureaucrat. This position of colonial viceroy known as the International Civilian Representative (ICR), will be held by one of the West’s innumerable, interchangeable has-been politicians moving from one sinecure to another. The ICR will, for example, have the authority to “[t]ake corrective measures to remedy, as necessary, any actions taken by the Kosovo authorities that the ICR deems to be a breach of this Settlement.” Such corrective measures would include “annulment of laws or decisions adopted by Kosovo authorities,” “sanction or remov[al] from office [of] any public official or take other measures, as necessary, to ensure full respect for this Settlement and its implementation,” final say over the appointment of the “Director-General of the Customs Service, the Director of Tax Administration, the Director of the Treasury, and the Managing Director of the Central Banking Authority of Kosovo.” There’s democracy for you.”
    Some independence.
    Anyways, Obamas foreign policy will be set by Brzezinski, he will just move our focus from the War on terror to another Cold War with Russia, and maybe even a real war.

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