The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has given United Nations Member States until April next year to submit written statements on the question of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, in an order made public today.
The decision follows the General Assembly’s vote earlier this month for an advisory opinion from the ICJ, also known as the World Court, on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February.
Based in The Hague and tasked with settling legal disputes between Member States and giving advisory opinions on legal questions, the ICJ has given States until 17 April 2009 to deliver their written statements and another three months to comment on statements written by other States.
Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by about nine to one, has also been invited to participate in the process. The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has been in place since NATO drove out Yugoslav forces amid inter-ethnic fighting in 1999.
At last month’s annual high-level General Debate in the General Assembly, Serbian President Boris Tadiæ said that as a result of Kosovo’s “unilateral, illegal illegitimate” move, “the very nature of the international system has been called into question.”