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.
The French law banning Muslim full-face veils from anywhere outside private homes and mosques was passed by the lower house of parliament Tuesday, with only a single dissenting vote. The ban is a move supported by a large majority of people in other west European countries, polls show. But the measure is seen as controversial and intolerant by Americans.
Offers of help from European countries to the U.S. in dealing with the Gulf oil-spill have been welcomed and publicly acknowledged in Washington. The Obama administration has been markedly more receptive to these trans-Atlantic overtures of solidarity than the preceding Bush administration was during the Katrina hurricane disaster. Alongside U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico, two littoral nations from Europe -- Norway and the Netherlands – have already sent equipment to help with the crisis. Both have experience with offshore drilling emergencies, and they have already sent over eight skimming systems, which arrived in the U.S. in early May.
Reflecting a general trend in Europe toward economic austerity and nationalism, voters in the Netherlands swung to the right on Wednesday by electing their first liberal (i.e., conservative) presumptive prime minister in almost a century while giving huge gains to xenophobic politician Geert Wilders.
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.
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