The ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Kosovo: Has International Law Something to Say About Secession?


The Interest Group on Peace and Security (IGPS) will be holding a workshop on The ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Kosovo on Thursday 2nd September 2010, in Cambridge, just before the opening of the 4th Biennial Conference of the European Society of International Law.


On 17 February 2008 the provisional institutions of self-government of Kosovo proceeded to a unilateral declaration of independence. International reaction has been rather mixed. As of 19 May 2010, 69 States have formally recognized Kosovo as a new independent State, whereas the majority of UN Member States has not recognized Kosovo. On the legal ground, a dispute arose about interpretation of classical rules of international law (self-determination, territorial integrity, recognition, non-interference in domestic affairs, definition of a State) and of relevant norms adopted within the framework of the international administration of Kosovo put in place by the Security Council in 1999 (SC Res 1244 (1999)). On 8 October 2008, the General Assembly requested an Advisory Opinion from the Court on the “Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo”. The Court is now deliberating and will deliver its Advisory Opinion in the next few months.


This workshop of the IGPS will provide an opportunity to comment on this important opinion. Participants will be invited to discuss the impact of this Opinion and of this case to International Law and the relevance of contemporary international legal rules in dealing with secession. Participants to this workshop include many academics working in the fields of self-determination/international administration of territories:

Dr. Theodore Christakis, Professor, University of Grenoble
Dr. Olivier Corten, Professor, Free University of Brussels
Dr. Marcelo Kohen, Professor, Graduate Institute of International Studies
Dr. Anne Peters, Professor, University of Basel
Dr. Marc Weller, Reader, University of Cambridge
Dr. Ralph Wilde, Reader, University College London


For further information, to register your interest in the event, or to join the IGPS please visit the IGPS website (https://igps.wordpress.com/) or contact Professor Theodore Christakis (Christakis@wanadoo.fr).

In his response to the contribution by Professor Theodore CHRISTAKIS on “The Colombia Cross-border Raid…”, Professor Rafael PRIETO SANJUAN, of the University Javeriana, Bogotá, argues that, although this incident demonstrated once again the effectiveness of regional dispute settlement mechanisms, it also perhaps revealed an ultra conservative commitment to sovereignty by the OAS which could be damaging to the fight against terrorism.

To read the whole article and comment visit the forum page.

Dans un article posté au site de l’IGPS et qui paraîtra au Journal des tribunaux du 19 avril 2008 (Belgique), Pierre d’Argent, Professeur à l’Université catholique de Louvain, se demande quelle est la part du droit dans le processus qui a suivi la proclamation de l’indépendance du Kosovo le 17 février 2008.

Cet article, qui vient à la suite de ceux déjà publiés sur notre site par J. d’Aspremont, O. Corten et M. Kohen, est consultable sur la page des discussions.

Insurgency and international law” : Special Workshop of the ESIL Interest Group on Peace and Security to be held during the 3rd Biennial Conference of the European Society of International Law, Heidelberg, 4-6 September 2008

CALL FOR PAPERS : Deadline : Sunday, 20 April 2008

The newly created ESIL Interest Group on Peace and Security (IGPS) (https://igps.wordpress.com/) has the pleasure to announce its first Workshop which will take place during the third biennial conference of the European Society of International Law in Heidelberg. The IGPS Coordinating Committee invites the submission of abstracts from ESIL members or other scholars interested in participating in this special workshop.


The IGPS initiates today a new discussion on “Kosovo and International Law” by posting three brief contributions sent by J. d’Aspremont, O. Corten and M. Kohen.

In the first of these contributions, Dr. J. d’Aspremont, lecturer in Public International Law at the University of Leiden, explains that international legal scholarship has been unable to provide policy-makers with a uniform position on the legal problems fuelled by the independence of Kosovo. He argues that the recognition of Kosovo following its declaration of independence does not constitute an international wrongful act and he discusses the practice that preceded or ensued the declaration of independence adopted by the government of Kosovo on 17 February 2008.

In the second of these contributions, already published in the newspaper “Le Soir” on February 20, 2008, Pr. O. Corten, Professor of International Law at the Free University of Brussels, argues on the contrary that the “premature” recognition of Kosovo is a violation of International Law and discusses, among other things, the relevance of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

In the third contribution, already published in Le temps (Geneva) on February 18, 2008, Pr. M. Kohen argues that the independance and the recognition are illegal, and suggests a “Hong Kong solution”.

The Interest Group on Peace and Security welcomes reactions and comments by legal scholars.

Read the contributions and post your comment

Le nouvel ouvrage d’Olivier Corten, Le droit contre la guerre. L’interdiction du recours à la force en droit international contemporain (Paris, Pedone, préface de Bruno Simma, 2008, 867 p.), vient de paraître. Commande de l’ouvrage peut être faite aux éditions Pedone (editions-pedone@wanadoo.fr). A cette occasion, le dossier “interdiction du recours à la force” présent sur le site du Centre de droit international de l’ULB (cliquez sur “administrateur”; puis rubrique “Dossiers”) a été entièrement actualisé. On y trouvera un exposé de la position des Etats sur ce thème, à la fois dans le cadre de débats de principes qui se sont déroulés au sein de l’A.G., et à l’occasion de précédents plus particuliers.

The Colombia Cross-border Raid, the Turkish Incursion in Northern Iraq and the Legality of Cross-Border Military Operations to Hunt Down Rebels

(by T. Christakis)

For the second time in a few days a State undertook an important cross-border military operation in order to attack rebels hiding on the other side of the frontier. After the February incursion of Turkish troops into northern Iraq to target PKK militants, Colombia undertook last Saturday (March 1, 2008) a cross-border raid inside Ecuador, which killed FARC’s number two commander Raul Reyes. You can find hereafter some declarations and reactions concerning these two cases which can be interesting for International Lawyers and which could give some useful information concerning State practice and opinio juris in matters like self-defence, “hot pursuit” and the principle of respect of the territorial integrity of States.

Read more and post your comment