Friday, March 7, 2008

Kosovo quandary is dividing United Nations members

March 07, 2008

by Dobrinko Doslo

Since the universal declaration of independence by Kosovo Albanians on Feb. 17, the world's nations are dividing themselves into two categories.

Division A includes those which deem the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo Albanians to be against the current international law and the charters of the United Nations, and do not recognize the new Kosovo. Put Spain, China, Romania, Russia, and Slovakia in that category.

Division B includes those nations which have already or will recognize Kosovo -- such as Afghanistan, France, Costa Rica, the United States and Italy.

So, what's the difference between these two lists? Both include NATO members, European Union members, members of the G8, large countries, small countries,Western democracies and totalitarian regimes. All of these countries, in both divisions, are members of the UN which signed up by agreeing to follow certain principles -- one of them being that it is illegal to force upon a member state forceful division against its will. So far, so good.

Countries in both divisions read the law from same UN document, yet are acting in opposing ways. How so?

Those in the B division believe, first, that Kosovo deserves independence because of the suffering endured during the years of tyranny under the late Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic.

But that should not be so, argues the opposing camp, citing the example of Kurdistan within Iraq.

Second, those in division B contend that in the past, during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, the Serbian state violated some international laws itself, so it shouldn't really have any right to call upon them now.

That may be so, the other side argues, but two wrongs don't make a right?

Third, negotiations between Kosovo Albanians and Serbia reached impasse, and after they failed it was time for decisive action. However, Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiators are showing the world they will take as much time as needed to reach a settlement.

Finally, those in the B division argue, Kosovo is a unique case (name a country that isn't) and this may never be used as a precedent in any other dispute. Well, tell that to the Basques in Spain and Transylvania Hungarians in Romania who have already articulated their eagerness to follow the Kosovo example, just to mention two simmering hot spots on the arms-length list of the world's ethnic minorities aspirations. The concept of a "unique precedence" exists since Feb. 17, and exclusively so, to the nations in division B.

So, where does that leave us ?

Well, the magic number seems to be 99 -- meaning, basically, 50 per cent plus one of 197 UN member countries.

If division B gets to that magic number it would mean that a majority of UN states are really not in favor of the rules currently in place. Or, it will, de facto, be acknowledged that it is really up to each state to cherry-pick only those international laws they feel so inclined to follow, making this world a rather dangerous place to live in.

Nevertheless, just to spice the whole thing up, there is the UN security council, with its permanent, veto-bearing members.

If the number of countries in division B comes up short of that magic one, those which recognized the independence of Kosovo could establish diplomatic ties, and would be able to provide financial assistance to prop up the Kosovo economy, and Kosovo Albanians would be able to travel to those countries using new passports -- the newly created symbols of independence.
Despite that, Kosovo would not be able to join the UN, nor the International Monetary Fund, nor any other organization with a membership reserved for UN members only.

Come to think of it -- for Kosovo Albanians the post-Feb. 17 world is not all that different from the predeclaration days.

But it is the outcome of the numbers game between divisions A and B that will determine whether the world still has rules that must be observed. Or, will they signal a full and graceful degradation of the UN into oblivion?

What's the alternative? A world of 197 different and often conflicting rules to play by? Humankind has been there and done that over many hundreds of years, and it wasn't all that pretty.

So, here we go.

The million dollar question is: which division will Canada choose, and why?

Dobrinko Doslo lives in Kitchener and is a member of the Serbian-Canadian community. Second Opinion articles reflect the views of Record readers on a variety of subjects.
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