All folks with an appreciation for modern European political history will no doubt be looking with a touch of nervousness towards the Balkans tonight, as Kosovo unilaterally declares independence from Serbia. Despite this declaration being made in apparent contravention of international law, and being opposed firmly by both Serbia and Russia, the continent is somewhat relaxed about the move thanks to the weight that United States and the majority of EU states bring to the struggle forwards for the Kosovars. To the international stage, we should all extend a warm welcome to Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a formal rebel leader in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA):
“The world’s map is changing,” Prime Minister Hashim Thaci declared in a televised broadcast to what would soon be the seventh nation to emerge from the ashes of the old Yugoslavia. “We are getting our independence. Everything is a done deal.”
Although this one appears like all the world to be a step in the right direction, it is disappointing that we once again have a situation whereby the United Nations has been sidelined by realpolitik. Problem: it is virtually impossible to get anything remotely contentious or seen to favour one particular council member over another through the UN Security Council. Solution: ignore the council and proceed through other avenues, safe in the knowledge that there will be no real significant repercussions. There is not really any point in international law if its mechanisms are wantonly abused whenever it is politically convenient to do so (with for the strong nations, is just about always).
One of these days we are going to have a situation where the UN Security Council is flagrantly bypassed, and a state like Russia or China is going to take arguably justified retaliatory action. For the sake of the long-suffering Kosovars, let us hope that it doesn’t happen this time around, but maybe it will take such an event to once again remind the world of the importance of strong and binding international governance mechanisms.
ELSEWHERE: You can gawk at the new Kosovar national flag here.