8 October 2008
General Assembly
GA/10764

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Plenary

22nd Meeting (AM)


Backing Request by Serbia, General Assembly Decides to Seek International


Court of Justice Ruling on Legality of Kosovo’s Independence

 


The General Assembly today, by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 6 against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 74 abstentions, adopted a resolution drafted by Serbia, to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence earlier this year.


In initiating the resolution, Serbia had responded to Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on 17 February with “maximal restraint”, said Serbian Minister for Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremić, as he introduced the text.  The resolution was asking the 192-member Assembly to convey its request to the Court--the United Nations’ highest judicial body--for an advisory opinion, in line with its powers under the Organization’s Charter.


Sending the question to the Court “would prevent the Kosovo crisis from serving as a deeply problematic precedent in any part of the globe where secessionist ambitions are harboured”, he explained.  An advisory opinion would provide politically neutral and judicially authoritative guidance to many countries still deliberating how to approach such unilateral declarations.


“Support of this resolution would reaffirm a fundamental principle:  the right of any Member State […] to pose a simple, basic question--on a matter it considers vitally important, to the international court,” he said, adding that a vote against the text would deny the right of any country–-now or in the future-–to seek judicial recourse through the United Nations system.  “The question posed is amply clear and refrains from taking political positions on the Kosovo issue.”


With that, the draft received support from a geographic mix of countries, including Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean and the Middle East, with delegates backing the measure out of respect for international law, the United Nations Charter, States’ right to request an advisory opinion-–particularly on sovereignty matters-–and the Court’s position as the appropriate judicial body for ruling on such highly complex matters.  Algeria’s representative also underscored that the draft contained no political or controversial elements.


For his part, however, the representative of Albania “respectfully disagreed”, saying that today’s activities were an attempt--“logistically legal, but in essence, manipulative”--to stall the process of Kosovo’s recognition, with the intention of causing detrimental effects on the ground.  As one of the six countries to vote against the resolution, Albania believed the Balkans deserved to channel its energies towards building a common future for the prosperity of all.  “Old stereotypes of getting even are outdated–-everywhere”, he added.


The international community had intervened after the violent and non-consensual break up of Former Yugoslavia nine years ago, he said, to end the “ethnic cleansing enterprise and genocide run by the State”, which had resulted in an exodus of 1 million Kosovar Albanians, and thousands killed and disappeared.  He was concerned that the Assembly’s involvement “in this very unique case”, along with the possible pronouncement of an opinion by the world Court, might create interpretations that had “wider latitude and scale of application”.


The United States representative shared that concern, explaining before her vote against the draft, that an opinion by the Court was “unnecessary and unhelpful”.  The common concern should be to help shape the future for both Serbia and Kosovo, and the resolution before the Assembly did not advance that goal.  She asked the Assembly to consider the potential consequences of asking the Court to opine on the matter, as doing so might open the door for others to seize on language to bolster their own claims for independence.


“Kosovo’s independence is, and will remain, a reality,” said the representative of the United Kingdom prior to the vote, and Serbia needed to decide how it would come to terms with that reality.  Twenty-two of the European Union’s 27 members recognized Kosovo’s autonomy.


Adoption of the text meant that the question must be addressed in the context of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, starting with Belgrade’s unilateral decision in 1989 to remove Kosovo’s autonomy, through to the present day.  In the last eight months, 48 countries had recognized Kosovo as a sovereign, independent State, and the Court would have to proceed in line with the principle that all interested parties be able to present arguments on an equal footing.


Explaining his abstention in the vote, he said the United Kingdom regretted the lack of substantive debate on the draft, including in the context and formulation of the question, and the desirability of signalling, in the interest of fairness, that Kosovo should be allowed to present its arguments to the Court.


Also addressing the Assembly today were the representatives of Turkey and Mexico.


Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote were the representatives of Romania, Slovakia, Panama, Egypt, Spain, Greece, France, Cyprus, Indonesia, Cuba, South Africa, Comoros, Costa Rica, Iran, and Algeria.


Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote were the representatives of Canada, Peru, Germany, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Colombia, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, El Salvador, Singapore, and Iceland.


In a point of order, the representative of Liberia expressed a problem with the use of her voting mechanism.  She was informed that her delegation could not vote.  As a clarification, the Assembly President drew attention to the list of countries under article 19 of the Charter contained in document A/63/350.


A Secretariat Official also informed the Assembly about the budget programme implications of adopting the resolution.


The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 9 October to take up the reports of the Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund.


Background


The General Assembly met this morning to take up a draft resolution submitted by Serbia containing a request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on “whether the 17 February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law,” (document A/63/L.3).


Introduction of Draft Resolution


Introducing the text, VUK JEREMIĆ, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Serbia, said that on 17 February 2008, the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo and Metohija unilaterally declared independence.  Serbia responded with restraint and had ruled out the use of force or economic sanctions against the breakaway province.


Serbia had decided to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity through diplomacy and international law.  He said that Serbia was seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of that unilateral declaration, and was asking the Assembly to convey the request to the Court, in line with its powers and functions under the United Nations Charter.


Serbia believed sending the question to the Court “would prevent the Kosovo crisis from serving as a deeply problematic precedent in any part of the globe where secessionist ambitions are harboured.”  An advisory opinion would provide politically neutral and judicially authoritative guidance to many countries still deliberating how to approach such unilateral declarations of independence in line with international law.


“Support of this resolution would reaffirm a fundamental principle:  the right of any Member State […] to pose a simple, basic question--on a matter it considers vitally important, to the international court,” he said, adding that a vote against the text would deny the right of any country–-now or in the future-–to seek judicial recourse through the United Nations system.


The draft resolution in its present form was entirely non-controversial and represented the lowest common denominator of the position of the Member States on the question, he continued, stressing that there was no need for any changes or additions.  He urged the Assembly to adopt the resolution and let the Court act freely and impartially within the framework of its competencies.


Serbia was confident the world Court would know how to act and would take into account the opinions of all interested Member States and international organizations.  He said that Serbia believed the most prudent way to proceed was to adopt the resolution without opposition, just as delegations had done when they had decided to include the item on the Assembly’s agenda.


Statements


JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom), recalling his 2 October letter to the Assembly which noted issues regarding Serbia’s request, said the United Kingdom had made it clear it was a strong supporter of the Court, and had for years accepted its compulsory jurisdiction.  The United Kingdom was one of only 65 States with an optional clause declaration under Article 36(2), and supported use of the Court by States to resolve disputes.


As to why the United Kingdom was raising questions about the Serbian request, he said the reason was that the request had been motivated primarily for political-–rather than legal-—reasons, designed to slow Kosovo’s emergence as a widely recognized independent nation.  “Kosovo’s independence is, and will remain, a reality,” he said.


The Serbian Government needed decide how it would come to terms with that reality, he continued, noting that Kosovo’s independence had been recognized by 22 of the 27 European Union members.  He wished to see Serbia a member of the Union, and to that end, Serbia would need to work constructively with its future European Union partners to maximize stability in the region, including in Kosovo.  The United Kingdom was confident in its legal position as a State recognizing Kosovo’s independence, following the final status process conducted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).


On the resolution before the Assembly, he regretted that Serbia had declined to seek a consensual way forward.  It had, on the contrary, decided to push the resolution through the Assembly with minimal debate on the issues.  That was not the custom in the Assembly, and “in light of such reservations on both substance and procedure, the United Kingdom would abstain in the vote on the resolution,” he said.


If the resolution was adopted, he said the question would need to be addressed in the context of the dissolution of Yugoslavia insofar as it affected Kosovo, starting with Belgrade’s unilateral decision in 1989 to remove Kosovo’s autonomy, thorough to the present day.  The European Union had put forward a proposal for status-neutrality.  That status-neutral proposal, in December 2007, represented the last chance for a negotiated settlement, and had been rejected by Serbia.  “In the last eight months, 48 countries had recognized Kosovo as a sovereign, independent State,” he said, stressing that if the resolution was adopted, that the Court proceed in accordance with the principle that all parties with an interest be able to present arguments on an equal footing.


His Government’s overwhelming concern in its policy towards the Balkans in the last 18 months had been to provide for peace and stability, those principles continued to guide his delegation today.  The Serbian people had made a strategic choice in their recent election, and he welcomed that.  The United Kingdom would “do what we can” to facilitate Serbia’s integration into Europe, but would expect, in return, the Serbian Government to cooperate fully with the Union in achieving stability in the Southern Balkans.  The United Kingdom’s disagreement with Serbia over tactics would not distract his delegation from its strategic objectives that were widely shared.


ADRIAN NERITANI ( Albania) said that his delegation “respectfully disagreed” with today’s attempt--“logistically legal, but in essence, manipulative”--to stall the process of Kosovo’s recognition, with the intention of causing detrimental effects on the ground.  “We believe the Balkans deserve to channel its energies towards building our common future for the prosperity of all,” he said, adding:  “Old stereotypes of getting even are outdated–-everywhere.”


Recognizing the International Court of Justice as a well-respected body of implementation through which Member States had the right to operate within the United Nations system to clarify issues, solve disputes, remedy situations and receive opinions, he said with that right came respective responsibility.  He therefore viewed the intentional particularization of a complex issue, such as Kosovo, into a simple one--for example, just its legal aspects--as an attempt to establish an out-of-context situation, cutting it away from its very root causes.  Further, it was an attempt to draw a false connection between cause and effect.


He said that prolonging the recognition process of Kosovo was not, in and of itself, a good reason and bona fide purpose to engage the General Assembly.  Indeed, Member States deserved “the known truth” and any intentional attempts to conceal facts were a disservice to United Nations and its institutions.


He went on to note that Kosovo was a unique case, in its historical and political developments.  The international community had intervened after the violent and non-consensual break up of Former Yugoslavia nine years ago to put an end to an “ethnic cleansing enterprise and genocide run by the State”, which had resulted in an exodus of 1 million Kosovar Albanians, and thousands killed and disappeared.  He also credited the international community with the legal administration of Kosovo until independence was declared.


He believed that the Assembly’s involvement “in this very unique case”, along with the possible pronouncement of an opinion by the world Court, might create interpretations that had “wider latitude and scale of application”.  Indeed, a “push to the margins” by the Assembly might create a precedent, “with potentially bad applications everywhere”.  Finally, on a technical matter, he noted that the term “unilateral declaration of independence” in the resolution was not a factual representation, but “a biased interpretation”.


BAKI İLKIN ( Turkey) said his country was determined to further its relations with all the Balkan countries in all fields, and valued its close relations with Serbia.  It believed Serbia’s welfare and stability was indispensable for the well-being of the greater Balkan region and Europe.  At the same time, Turkey had historical ties and strong fraternal bonds with the Kosovar people, and had been one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo.  It believed that recognition was also consistent with international law.


While understanding the reasons that had led Serbia to seek an advisory opinion from the Court, Turkey did not think that such a move would help achieve the desired, and immediately needed, atmosphere of peace, stability and security in the Balkans.  Out of respect for the Court, Turkey would not challenge the right of Serbia to recourse to the Court and would not participate in the voting.


RUTH MARIE DI CARLO ( United States) said after years of war and post-communist transition, the people of the Balkans had rejected the violent nationalism that brought them misery.  Under a democratically elected Government, Kosovo was at peace.  The Government in Pristina had followed a proposal developed by the Special Envoy, and had enacted 41 pieces of legislation to implement that proposal.  Kosovo’s Government sought strong relations with its neighbours, including Serbia.


The United States believed the common concern should be to help shape the future for both Serbia and Kosovo, and as such, was extending economic and political support to both.  She said that the resolution before the Assembly did not advance that goal, and the United States offered its full support for the Court.  On the question to refer the decision to the Court, she suggested an opinion was unnecessary and unhelpful, and for those reasons, the United States would vote against referral.


She said 48 countries had recognized Kosovo’s independence, including 22 of the 27 European Union members.  Such recognition was consistent with international law.  It was not fair to ask the Court to opine on that matter.  She respectfully asked the Assembly to consider the potential consequences of doing so, noting the potential for others to seize on language to bolster their claims for independence.


If the matter went forward, she said the Court would have to look at the issue with “extreme care”, and view it within context of the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia.  That situation had led to the adoption of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), which called for a United Nations presence in Kosovo and a political process to determine its political status.  It was important that the Court hear from Serbia and Kosovo an equal basis, as well as others.  The United States supported the remarkable progress made in the Balkans, which had laid groundwork for growth and development.  Despite its disagreement with Serbia on the current matter, the United States would work closely with Serbia and others to advance peace in the region.


CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the draft resolution before the Assembly was based on the interpretation of Article 96 given to the Assembly, and other United Nations organs, to call for an advisory opinion from the Court since the founding of the Organization.  Members of the international community were subject to international law and were required to seek a peaceful means of settling disputes.


The Court, as the principal judicial organ on the international scene, made an invaluable contribution to the rule of law through its opinions.  The request from Serbia was in keeping with paragraph 2 of article 66 of the Statute of the Court, and fulfilled the requirements in form and substance created by the United Nations Charter, so the Assembly could request an opinion.  For all those reasons, Mexico would vote in favour of the adoption.


Before action on the draft, a representative of the Secretariat said, that should the text be adopted, the Court would proceed to establish its scope of work arising from the request.  Resources had been provided in the programme budget 2008-2009 to provide advisory opinions requested by United Nations bodies and agencies.  Due to the complexity of the question in the draft resolution, its adoption was expected to give rise to additional resource requirements.  The scope of work on the matter would be detailed in a budget which would be submitted to the Assembly during its current session.


Explanations of vote before the vote


The representative of Romania underscored that international law was the essence of the Organization.  The draft contained a question that was fully in line with the right to recourse of law.  Romania fully trusted the Court’s opinions, and was absolutely sure that its opinion in this matter would help the Assembly make wise decisions in the future, particularly when considering questions of territorial integrity.  In light of those considerations, Romania would vote in favour of the resolution.


Slovakia’s representative said his delegation respected the right of every Member State to seek an advisory opinion from the Court.  Slovakia would vote in favour of the draft resolution.


The representative of Panama said his delegation would vote in favour of the resolution.  He believed in the peaceful settlement of disputes and supported the rule of law and the independence of the Court.  All parties should be given the opportunity to give their views.  That would not affect any decision Panama would take to recognize the independence of Kosovo.


The representative of Egypt said it was the right of every Member State to seek an advisory opinion from the Court, and the right of the Assembly to grant this request.  He believed in the Court’s ability to enhance the rule of law.  It was clear that this question was a legal issue, not a political question.  Egypt believed in strengthening the role of United Nations and the Assembly on issues of sovereignty and that entailed the recognition of the pivotal role of the Court.  The Assembly should not shy away from its responsibilities, he said, adding that Egypt would vote in favour of the draft resolution.


Spain’s representative said his delegation would vote in favour of the draft resolution, adding that Spain did not wish to influence the impartiality of the International Court of Justice, the principle judicial organ of the United Nations.  Though the legal aspects of Kosovo were subject to diverse interpretations by Member States, that position stemmed from Spain’s respect for international law, and the great importance Spain attached to the functioning of United Nations organs, including the General Assembly and the Court.


The representative of Greece said every State had a prerogative to seek an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.  He respected the Court’s authority and competence to investigate legal issues.  On the resolution to refer the matter to the Court, Serbia’s request was based on international law and practice.  He supported that, and would vote in favour of the resolution.


The representative of France said Kosovo’s declaration of independence had ended the violent dismemberment of Yugoslavia, and was the result of the process of defining Kosovo’s status under Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).  Kosovo’s independence constituted a sui generis case, and did not put into question territorial integrity and sovereignty issues.  He recognized the new State, as had 22 of 27 European Union members.  The republic of Kosovo had a legislative framework that was in line with European norms.  France fully backed the Court, but the request for an advisory opinion was not useful for the recognition of Kosovo, nor would it contribute to appeasing tensions.  For those reasons, France would abstain in the vote.


Continuing, he said that to overcome past divisions, Europe had proposed to the Western Balkans a European future.  France was determined to assist Serbia in engaging with that future, and would reiterate that Serbia could speed its progress in coming closer to Europe.  He underscored the European Union’s determination to play a role in achieving regional stabilization, and encouraged Serbia to contribute to peace and stability in the Balkans.


The representative of Cyprus said his delegation would vote in favour of the text, adding that it considered that every State had a principle right to seek an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, in the vital interest and fundamental principles of international law.  The Court provided clarity through its advisory opinions.  He went on to caution against legal expediencies in international law and voiced strong support of peaceful resolution of disputes.


Indonesia’s representative remained steadfast in supporting the rule of law and the governance of States.  He maintained the integrity of the United Nations Charter and the rule of law.  The Charter allowed the Court to give an advisory opinion on any issue.  For that issue, Indonesia would vote in favour of the draft resolution.


The representative of Cuba agreed that any Member State had a right to request an advisory opinion.  The draft resolution was an expression of Serbia’s legitimate right to do that.  Indeed, it was in keeping with the Charter and international law, and the draft was consistent with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement.  For such reasons, Cuba would vote in favour of the draft.


The representative of South Africa said his delegation would vote in favour of the draft resolution, supporting the right of the Member States to seek advice from the International Court of Justice.  He stressed that though 48 countries had recognized Kosovo, it was also important that 144 countries had not.


The representative of the Comoros condemned any form of secession that undermined the principles of the Charter, and would vote in favour of the resolution.


The representative of Costa Rica said respect for primacy of international law was the reason it would back the path chosen by Serbia.  Everyone was aware of his delegation’s position.  He was convinced that an advisory opinion was desirable to resolve the present dispute.  He would thus back the resolution.


The representative of Iran reaffirmed his delegation’s strong commitment to pacific settlement of disputes, as embodied in the Charter.  His positive vote today should be regarded as a sign of its commitment to that high principle.


The representative of Algeria said he firmly backed the work of the Court, and believed in the primacy of international law in international relations.  The draft contained no elements of a political or controversial nature, and it was the prerogative of any State to request an advisory opinion.  For that reason, it would vote in favour of the resolution.


Action on Draft


The Assembly then adopted the resolution with a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 6 against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 74 in abstention.  (See annex)


Explanations of Vote After the Vote


The representative of the United Kingdom said the reservations expressed earlier had prompted his delegation to abstain from a vote even with its longstanding support for the Court.  It was striking that more Member States felt the need to abstain than vote in favour of the resolution.  He held deep reservations concerning the utility of the question proposed by Serbia.  An advisory opinion could not, in itself, determine Kosovo’s status.  The implementation of the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal by an independent Kosovo under international supervision offered the best chance for peace, stability and prosperity for Kosovo, Serbia and the region.


He regretted the lack of substantive debate on the draft resolution, including the context and formulation of the question, and the desirability of signalling, in the interest of fairness, that Kosovo should be allowed to present its arguments to the Court.  For those reasons, the United Kingdom had abstained.  The United Kingdom wanted to engage constructively with the Court and looked to Serbia to engage constructively with the European Union in promoting stability in the region.


Canada’s representative supported the Court’s ability to address international disputes.  Yet, this case raised highly political matters for judicial review.  Canada believed today’s action was unlikely to result in an advisory opinion that would foster stability in the region.  He said it would be fair to Kosovo to be given an opportunity to present its case to the Court.


Peru’s representative stated that his delegation had supported the resolution.  In the light of international law, and this case’s peculiar circumstances, Peru also reaffirmed and backed the International Court of Justice as the principle judicial organ of the United Nations, whether it was acting in exercise of its own jurisdiction or when requested for an advisory opinion.  He also recognized Serbia’s right to put such a request before the General Assembly, in line with the United Nations Charter.


The representative of Germany said his country was strongly committed to the Court, however, any General Assembly action should contribute to advancing a stable and just settlement for Kosovo and the Western Balkans.  He did not believe that the resolution would help advance that cause.  Germany trusted that the Court would proceed according to the principle of fairness.  At the same time, he did not want to oppose the request supported by a considerable group of Assembly Members, and for that reason, it had abstained in the vote on the resolution.


The representative of Argentina, citing the United Nations pillars of peace and security, said the whole of the security system was based on the fact that United Nations Members were bound to fulfil relevant resolutions.  Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), which his country had voted in favour of, had established the legal and political parameters regarding the Kosovo matter.  The resolution was clear, however, and he joined with the majority in agreeing to the request for an advisory opinion.


The representative of Finland said the Court had a crucial role in the promotion and application of international law.  Her country recognized its compulsory jurisdiction and had promoted its wider acceptance, and consistent support to the Court and the rule of law were integral to Finland’s foreign policy.  At the same time, Finland had abstained in the vote on the resolution.  Finland was among the 48 countries that had recognized Kosovo, and was concerned about any developments that would create regional instability.  All relevant actors should be able to present positions on the matter.


Australia’s representative recognized the right of every State to seek an advisory opinion and respected the right of Serbia to bring the current request to the Assembly.  Australia strongly supported the Court as the Organization’s principal judicial organ.  But Australia assessed the merits of each case individually and was not convinced of the merits of this case, and was therefore unable to support it.  Kosovo was universally recognized as an independent State.  An advisory opinion would only serve to delay efforts towards peace and stability.  It was important to continue efforts to bring about peace, and he urged the Serbian Government to engage with the European Union and other parties in the stability of the region, and its own peace and stability.


Now that the question had been referred to the Court, Kosovo should be present during the proceedings and be able to present arguments in its own name.  He added that Liberia did vote, but its vote was not recognized because of technical difficulties.


Colombia’s representative wanted to explain that delegations abstention.  Columbia underscored the importance of the Court’s jurisdiction and considered it a valuable tool.  She noted the historical circumstances that had led to Kosovo’s declaration of independence and that the United Nations had engaged in sustained and broad efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement.  Colombia had no doubt about the independence of Kosovo.  But transparency was essential and the Court, through an advisory opinion, could make an appropriate contribution.


The representative of Denmark said his delegation abstained from the vote because, though it strongly supported the International Court of Justice, it was not convinced of the utility of an advisory opinion in this case.  Denmark was among those countries having already recognized Kosovo, and had taken a decision today out of concern for the economic stability of Kosovo and the region.  He voiced conviction that advisory opinions were important tools for legal questions from the Court, but added that he was worried that it was best to serve “real issues”, and Denmark did not expect today’s action to produce a “forward-looking agenda” for the people of the Balkans, although he expected a fair resolution to the question, and adequate access to present all views.


The representative of Norway said most people entered statehood under difficult circumstances.  He supported Serbia’s proposal, and trusted that the Court would proceed according to principles of judicial fairness.


Switzerland’s representative said his delegation had abstained.  Switzerland had decided to recognize Kosovo after looking at all areas of international law, and felt that a request to the International Court of Justice could lead to uncertainties and undermine economic development in the region.  However, Switzerland would continue to commit itself to the stability and economic development of the Balkans.  Further, it had backed the International Court of Justice since its creation, and viewed it as important in the settlement of disputes.


The representative of El Salvador voted in favour of the resolution, which sought an opinion on whether Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence was in line with international law.  He recognized that a fundamental element of that law was States’ right to request an advisory opinion from the Court, which, in keeping with its statute, should render a decision.  In view of the existing situation, El Salvador supported that initiative.  At the same time, he supported the Assembly’s role in the matter.


The representative of Singapore said he was sympathetic to the quest of the people of Kosovo, as they, indeed, had suffered terrible treatment in the past.  Many countries had expressed sympathy for some form of autonomy for Kosovo.  To date, Singapore had not supported Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, and was concerned about the precedent it could set.  His delegation preferred that the matter be resolved peacefully by the concerned parties.  Singapore had voted in favour of the resolution, as the situation was a highly complex matter, and the Court was the appropriate international body to provide an advisory opinion on it.


The representative of Iceland supported the resolution and in doing so, departed from the position of those who had recognized Kosovo.  Nonetheless, he shared the same view of those States on the historical events.  Iceland had voted for the resolution, based on the fundamental importance of international law.  The rules of international law should cover the behaviour of States.


Making a general statement, Serbia’s Foreign Minister, Mr. JEREMIĆ, said it was great day for the Assembly and international law.  He thanked the Organization for providing a legal view of its case.  He thanked wholeheartedly the countries that had supported the current course of action and upheld the principle of international law and the United Nations Charter.  He looked forward to working constructively on the process regarding the future status of “our province”.


ANNEX


Vote on Request for Advisory Opinion of International Court of Justice


The draft resolution on the request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law (document A/63/L.2) was adopted by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 6 against, with 74 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Timor-Leste, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Albania, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, United States.


Abstain:  Afghanistan, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, REP OF Moldova, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Yemen.


Absent:  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Iraq, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Venezuela.


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For information media • not an official record