Smith Hails Kosovo Precedent

22 July 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament and alternate member of the Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) hailed the ruling of the International Court of Justice that the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Kosovan Parliament in 2008 was in-keeping with norms of international law.
Smith was in Prishtina shortly before the 2008 Declaration, and was not surprised by the ruling, given that precedent already clearly defined the various criteria for independence under international law.  The ruling is, however, useful in that it is the most recent consideration of the legal issues around independence by the ICJ.  While the ruling is not formally binding, the Court is, in practice, the world's highest authority on international law.
Smith said:
"While this decision alone is not determinative of the actual independence of Kosovo, it is of crucial importance in bringing to an end the belligerence and unrest that plagues the area.

"Unfortunately, both the Kosovan and Serbian governments have defiantly refused to alter their position on Kosovan secession, regardless of today's outcome, therefore this decision may not be of quite the same significance as a domestic political instrument, as it is as an international precedent. However, we should be hopeful that this will encourage greater engagement of all concerned with the peace process.

"It is crucial for the stability of the region as a whole that neighbouring governments, especially Serbia, recognise that not only is Kosovan independence legal, it is a necessary step in building the stability of the region.
"When I was in Pristina meeting people from across the political spectrum, as well as civil society and the international organisations active on the ground, it was clear to me that the people of Kosovo, of all ethnicities, were united in their enthusiasm to build their nation.
Smith continued, saying:

"The 69 states, and 22 out of 27 EU members, who have already recognised Kosovo as an independent state are to be praised, and I expect this number to rise as a result of this decision.

"In order to build a nation you need the powers to do it, the normal powers of independence, within the framework of international law.  Today's ruling demonstrates the legitimacy of Kosovo's political will, and its determination to fully join the international community, and get on with the betterment of the lives of its citizens. I wish them well."