The issue of Kosovo underlines the awful and utter futility of internaitonal law when it comes to something that the US, France, the UK and other formidable western powers desire.
The case made by Russia on behalf of Serbia is not without logic:
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, emphasized Moscow's continued objection to Kosovo independence. He said the only way to proceed with the resolution of the Kosovo crisis is to follow the recommendations of the Security Council Resolution 1244 adopted in 1999.
That resolution, says Churkin, assures the territorial integrity of Serbia, Kosovo included.
"We have a situation where the standards which should have been implemented before even discussing settlement have not been implemented," Churkin said. "We have a situation where there are almost no Serbs remaining in Kosovo. We have a situation where Kosovo Albanians clearly are not prepared for independence because even the proponents of the idea admit that international presence will have to stay there for a very long time. So, why go through this, why rush the process, why not do it right?"
Churkin also warned that a unilateral declaration of independence risked "a real danger of renewed interethnic violence and increase in extremist activities in Kosovo and in the Balkans as [a] whole."
While Belgrade has reaffirmed that it will not use violence against Kosovo, it is true that the border region of Serbia and Kosovo has proven unstable. Moreover, the new state of Kosovo will not have the police power to keep radical elements of the KLA in check. Should violence break out, moreover, history shows that the presence of internaitonal peacekeepers does absolutely nothing.
Serbia has sought to go through the right channels to oppose what they feel to be a violation of their territorial integrity-- a fundamental right according to internaitonal law of a state. The response of key states like the UK and the US reveals the futility of their actions.
Alejandro Wolff, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the UN, said continued debate over Kosovo would not help bring a resolution to what remains an essentially "irreconcilable" issue.
"It's clear again that this council is blocked as it has been," Wolff said. "There were no new elements introduced. I made the point on behalf of the United States that the Kosovo situation is unique, it has its history, we can't ignore or forget that history and its consequences of the ethnic cleansing policies of Slobodan Milosevic and his government which insured that Kosovo will never again be ruled from Belgrade. The simple fact is that the parties are irreconcilable on fundamental points. And that's why these negotiations have failed. This is not a question of more time."
London's UN ambassador, John Sawers, said that Britain recognizes that Kosovo's case is unique. He echoed U.S. sentiments that continuing discussions would not bring the sides any closer to a resolution.
"There was a good discussion in the council today," Sawers said. "I think the council was evenly divided between those who recognize that the process has come to a conclusion and those who would have preferred continued efforts. Although it was quite clear in our meeting in December, and again in our meeting last month, and again today that there is no prospect of the two sides reaching agreement on the fundamental issue of sovereignty."
Has the international community learned nothing from their experiments of the past century? A declaration of independence only protracts, crystalizes, and radicalizes a conflict. The creation of Isreal, the partition of Cyprus, Kashmir, and even Norther Ireland (the UK should look to its' own backyard) are all evidence of such truths.
Obviously there is a major problem with the way in which conflicts are negotiated and "resolved". Why, therefore, should Kosovo be added to this list? Why are the arguments of Russia and Serbia being categorically ignored?
The arguments for Kosovo independence are weak at best. Serbia is being systematically delegitimized by continued referenced to Milosevic. The UK ambassador made no reference to the fact that the current leaders successfully overthrew him in 2000 through a bloodless democratic election. Moreover, it should be mentioned that the failed talks in December had already been rendered null and void by the US and UK's public statement in September of their willingness to recognize an independent state of Kosovo. There was no incentive for Pristina to negotiate. Nor was there any movement on their part at yesterday's emergency session:
Kosovo's Albanian leaders did not attend the council session and did not ask to make a statement
Negotiations over Kosovo were over before they began. NATO member countries simply decided that they were tired of spending time and money to resolve the crisis. A cynical and very opinionated perspective, yes, but what else can one deduce by the way in which this situation has been pushed through?
At no point during this past year's "negotiations" was there really a chance that Kosovo would recieve autonomy within Serbia. The statements of the UK ambassador testify to that.
What does this mean for international law? The opinions of a few countries outweigh that of others. A divided Security Council should, in theory, put a halt to the process. Here, however, it has failed to do so.
Regardless of anyone's opinion of the Serbia-Kosovo issue, the way in which the US and the EU have been able to manipulate international law, should give us all pause for thought.