Kosovo breakaway did not violate international law: UN court
Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, contested by Serbia, did not violate general international law, the UN's highest court said on Thursday.
"The declaration of February 17, 2008 did not violate general international law," International Court of Justice president Hisashi Owada said about one hour into delivering a non-binding advisory opinion.
The UN General Assembly, at Serbia's request, asked the ICJ in October 2008 to render an opinion on the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.
Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic had warned ahead of Thursday's verdict that all the world's borders would be at risk if the ICJ backed what he termed Kosovo's "secession".
Serbia also cautioned that no conclusions should be drawn before a "careful analysis" of the court's text.
Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 69 countries, including the United States and 22 of the 27 EU countries. It is not accepted by Serbia's ally, Russia.
Belgrade has said it wants to continue negotiations on the status of Kosovo, but Pristina has declined.
Several thousand people, mostly ethnic Albanians, died in the 1998-99 war between separatist Kosovo Albanians and Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic's forces which ended when a NATO air campaign ousted the Serbs and established a UN protectorate.
NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo were ready for violence that may meet the ruling, although they did not expect any, their German commander said.
© 2010 AFP