The Security Council and Territorial Sovereignty: The Case of Kosovo

in International Community Law Review
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More than ten years since NATO intervened militarily to stop the violence and to create the conditions for a new regime of international administration, Kosovo remains at the top on the agenda of international actors and institutions. The present contribution examines the nature and scope of the Security Council’s action (and inaction) with regard to the political crisis and ensuing conflict emerged in Kosovo starting from the late 1990s and how that practice has shaped notions of territorial sovereignty. It analyses the different forms of international intervention in the four phases of the Kosovo controversy (from the 1998‐1999 crisis to the current situation post declaration of independence, passing through the UN administration of the territory and the negotiations on future status), the extent to which international law played a role in dictating outcomes and results and the ways in which the notion of territorial sovereignty was reinterpreted by the Council. The main conclusion reached is that, while some of the measures adopted throughout the years have introduced important novelties in the contemporary conception of territorial sovereignty, that has been the result of harsh bargaining between different states and groups of states in which the Council has only provided for the diplomatic setting, rather than the end products of the Council’s own policy and strategies. Moreover, as the current discussions over the mandate and legal basis of EULEX show, the interpretation of those measures and instruments has been remarkably at variance among the different actors, surfacing diplomatic conflicts and ‘agreements to disagree’ that have been frozen, in some cases for years, under neutral UN procedures and operational strategies.

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