For 60 years, the international community has limited the right of territories to gain independence without the permission of the “parent state.” Such limits were, however, challenged when Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, in February 2008. As a result, Belgrade referred the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On 22 July 2010, it came back with its long-awaited decision. Taking a narrow view of the question, the majority argued that, in general, declarations of independence, as mere statements, do not violate international law unless stated otherwise by the Security Council. Thus, Kosovo’s declaration of independence cannot be considered as being wholly “unique” – as those states that supported its statehood have claimed. On the key questions of whether Kosovo’s secession is legal, or if it is even a state, they chose to avoid controversy. On these points, the international community is no clearer now than it was before the case.
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