The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled Thursday that Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 does not violate any international law.
The verdict – that the step was legal – is a victory for U.S. and European policies and actions that led to Kosovo’s independence. This outcome has never been accepted by Russia or by Serbia, whose foreign minister reacted immediately with a vow that Belgrade would “never” recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.
Obama Team Seeks to Engage with the Court -- a Fence-Straddling Position as a “Non-Signatory” Participant
The International Criminal Court (ICC) represents a manifest irony in U.S. foreign policy. While Washington has defiantly refused to join the tide of broad international acceptance and join the ICC or submit to its jurisdiction, the U.S. has traditionally been a strong supporter (and sometimes even a leader) in international efforts to bring to justice those individuals and states guilty of war crimes and atrocities -- precisely the kinds of crimes the ICC was created to prosecute. The U.S. leadership was critically important in the prosecution of German and Japanese officials after World War II and in support for tribunals dealing with the genocides in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.
As New Jersey abolished capital punishment, European and American decision makers and experts met to examine the divergent transatlantic approaches to the death penalty at a meeting convened in cooperation with the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council. Portugal has led the campaign for the universal abolition of the death penalty. The continued use of this practice by the U.S. remains a central point of contention in the transatlantic dialogue. In addition to H.E. João de Vallera, Ambassador of Portugal, participants included Laurence Rothenberg, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice (speaking on a personal basis) and Robert Blecker, Professor of Law at New York Law School who spoke for the death penalty. Richard Dieter, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, and Deborah Fleischaker, Director of the Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, American Bar Association reasoned for a moratorium on the death sentence. Robert Harris, Assistant Legal Advisor for Human Rights at the U.S. Department of State addressed the human rights issue. The discussion was moderated by Neil Lewis, Legal Correspondent from the New York Times.
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