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Debate: TH believes that Kosovan declaration of independence was unjust

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Is Kosovo Declaration of Independence in accordance with International Law?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

Kosovo:

It is a disputed territory in the Balkans, the (former) southern province of Serbia. Population about two million: 90% Albanian; 10% Serb.

The GDP of Kosovo equivalent to that of Rwanda; with half the active population unemployed; with more than 200,000 refugees and displaced people and with a multiplication of violence against minorities.

It has been under international trusteeship since NATO's intervention in 1999. Henceforth, numerous measures (the ongoing peacekeeping missions there, the hundreds of millions of dollars given annually in economic aid) of international community were adapted so as to to preserve the individual states that once constituted a federal Yugoslavia and to prevent bloodshed among the numerous ethnic groups that populate them.

Kosovo declared its independence on 17 February 2008.

Advocates argue that it is the final stage of the disintegration in Yugoslavia which will bring stability in Kosovo and the whole of the Balkans and that this former Yugoslav province of two million, overwhelmingly ethnic Albanians, has right to become an independent state, like all the other parts of former Yugoslavia. Harsh realities on the ground, they continue, make independence for Kosovo the only viable option. In the current state relations between the Albanian majority, which is mostly Muslim, and the Serbian minority, which is mostly Orthodox Christian, have reached the boiling point.

Serbs, for whom Kosovo is an ancestral homeland and the site of many important Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries, insist that the area remain under Serbian sovereignty. Broader opposition to separating Kosovo from Serbia stems from concern about the potential precedent that would be set by redrawing boundaries along ethnic lines. Moreover, as opposition argues, the Declaration of independence violates international law, especially UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

Possible Definitions of Key Terms:

1. This House: International Community; United Nations; people in the room

2. Unjust: violating International Law

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Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) on the situation relating Kosovo

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Yes

Kosovan Declaration of Independence is a gross violation of international law, in particular United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and Helsinki Final Act. Quoting the UN SC Resolution 1244: “Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act”. Since the Republic of Serbia is the recognized successor state of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, its territorial integrity should be respected internationally respected. Therefore, Kosovan declaration of Independence violates International Law.

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No

Kosovan Declaration of Independence is entirely consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, which places no limits on the range of options that might constitute the final status. It is important to recall that resolution 1244 provided for Kosovo to enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as an interim solution, before a final status could be determined. References in SCR 1244 to the territorial integrity of the FRY are related to Kosovo’s interim status, which seems now to be coming to an end. Therefore, Kosovan Declaration of Independence does not violate international law.

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Kosovo: A Precedent or Sui Generis?

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Yes

Kosovan Declaration of Independence may serve as a dangerous precedent. Thus, it can only boost separatist feelings both in the region and in the entire world. Russia, which leads the opposition, has problems with separatists in Chechnya and the Caucasus region while Spain has had a long-running dispute with the armed ETA movement in Basque region. Other territorial entities with claims to secession, include Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska), Trans-Dniester, Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, and many other. Therefore, by setting a precedent for secessionist movements in other countries, the unilateral Kosovan Declaration of Independence opens the imaginary Pandora's box and saws the seeds of future trouble.

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No

Kosovo is “sui generis” and thus “does not set a precedent” for secessionist movements in other countries. Kosovo is a unique case because no other territory has been subject to the oppression that Kosovo endured at the hands of Milosevic, and that was followed by an internationally-agreed UN administration for an interim period pending a final-status settlement. The entire matter is perfectly legal. Therefore, Kosovan Deceleration of Independence does not set any precedent for its uniqueness and incomparability with other secessionist movements.

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Charter of the United Nations

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Yes

Kosovan Declaration of Independence is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations. The Republic of Serbia, like all other member states of the United Nations, is subject to the fundamental principles and norms of the United Nations Charter which guarantees the sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent states within their internationally recognized borders. Therefore, the unilateral Declaration of Independence jeopardizes the very fundament of the United Nations and the International Law.

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No

Kosovan Declaration of Independence does not violate the Charter of the United Nations for two main reasons: A) As outlined in the Charter, United Nations is based on the “respect for (...) self-determination of peoples.” Since 90% of Kosovo’s population, Albanians, demand their own state, independent Kosovo is perfectly consistent with the notion of self-determination. B) The General Affairs and External Relations Council underlined its conviction that Kosovo was a sui generis case that did not call into question the principles of the UN Charter.

References

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