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(Apr 27, 2009) On April 17, 2009, the Government of Serbia submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague its arguments against Kosovo's unilateral claim of independence, made on February 17, 2008. (Lucas Tanglen, Serbia Submits Arguments Against Kosovo Independence to ICJ, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, Apr. 19, 2009, available at
.) The U.N. General Assembly had voted on October 8, 2008, in favor of a resolution to seek an ICJ non-binding advisory opinion on the issue; the United States and Albania were two of six U.N. Member States to vote against the resolution (77 voted for it, 74 abstained). (Steve Czajkowski, UN General Assembly Seeks ICJ Ruling on Kosovo Independence, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, Oct. 8, 2008, available at
.) Despite Serbia's argument that it was legally void, the Constitution of the "breakaway Serbian province," adopted on April 8, 2008, went into force on June 14, 2008. (Nick Fiske, Kosovo Constitution Goes into Force Despite Serbia Protest, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, June 16, 2008, available at
; Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, Republic of Kosovo Assembly website, June 15, 2008, available at,100.)

The Government of Serbia contends, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic, that the Kosovo claim violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Serbian state, the U.N. Charter, and the Helsinki Final Act. (Tanglen, supra.) Jeremic noted that this is the first time for the ICJ to examine a case on the legality of secession, and Serbia extensively stressed "the fact that this case will affect all other such cases in the future"; moreover, he stated, "[s]ince all countries were allowed to send their opinions to the court, we wanted … as many countries as possible … [to] send their opinion regarding the Kosovo independence and whether they think it is against international law." (Kosovo Unilateral Independence Has No Foundation in International Law, Serbian Government official website, Apr. 18, 2009, available at

It is particularly noteworthy, Jeremic added, that for the first time China decided to send an opinion on a case before the ICJ. (Id.; Tanglen, supra; Kosovo Declaration of Independence [Kosovo Assembly], Feb. 17, 2008, available at; S.C. Res. 1244, U.N. Doc. S/RES/1244 (June 10, 1999), UNMIK website, available at; U.N. Charter,; Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe: Final Act (Helsinki 1975), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe website, Aug. 1, 1975, available at [use search feature].)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Sovereignty More on this topic
Jurisdiction: International Court of Justice More about this jurisdiction
 Serbia and Montenegro More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 04/27/2009