Nabiha Bari Kosovo has, since long been a victim of ethnic violence and abuse of human rights. This bigotry and indiscriminate repression reached their extreme during the late 90s when the Albanian guerrillas, styling themselves the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), launched violent attacks on the Serbian police and Yugoslavian army. This was, however, responded with barbarism, which led to the massacre of thousands of people, and caused some 280,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians to flee the state. To alleviate the brutality and lawlessness, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution (No. 1244) in 1999. According to this resolution, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK) in Kosovo retained ultimate political authority in the province. In addition, the NATO-led peacekeeping force, Kosovo Force (KFOR), was delegated with the task of bringing stability to the region. As stated in the Resolution 1244, UNMIK was to perform basic civilian administrative functions and establish substantial autonomy or self-government in Kosovo. Among other things, its main function was to determine Kosovos future status and co-ordinate with all the international agencies for humanitarian and disaster relief, meaning whereby, the reconstruction of key infrastructure, promotion of human rights and the safe return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes. However, both NATO forces and UNMIK were criticised for not carrying out their functions. Moreover, under the same resolution, Serbia was authorised to send troops back into Kosovo but was, in fact, prevented from doing so by UNMIK. This was in breach of the resolution. At the same time, NATO forces were criticised for attacking civilians which is against its Charter. However, the forces defended their actions by stating that under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, use of force was justified where the maintenance of peace and security was at stake. Similarly, Article 41 of the UN Charter also supported the same view. As a result of the failure to maintain peace, UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, was sent to determine the status of Kosovo. This process began in 2005 when Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, repeatedly claimed that Kosovos independence was in violation of the Serbian sovereignty. Attempts were made by Ahtisaari to bring the parties together to address various issues ranging from the economy to property rights etc. Proposals were also drafted and redrafted many times during 2006 and 2007 to get the support of many countries which had not yet recognised Kosovo, especially Russia. Unfortunately, Russia stuck to the view that it would accept only those proposals that did not compromise the rights of either party. As a result of these talks which remained inconclusive, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in response to a request by the General Assembly (GA), gave an advisory opinion on whether the declaration of Kosovos independence was in violation of any international law including Resolution 1244. The court observed that the resolution did not contain any provision dealing with the final status of Kosovo, nor did the UNSC reserve for itself any right with respect to determining Kosovos independence. The ICJ was criticised for having responded to the question on the declaration of independence. But these criticisms are without any strong basis. Legally speaking, the court has the power to give an advisory opinion as enunciated in Article 65 of the ICJ which states that the court may give opinion on any legal question at the request of anybody authorised by the UN Charter. In the same way, GA has the right, according to Article 96 of the UN Charter, to request the ICJ for its advisory opinion on any legal question. Therefore, since the question as to whether the declaration was in accordance with the international law was a legal one; it could be adjudicated upon by the ICJ. There are a number of other laws that apply to the same situation. For instance, Article 1 of the UN Charter requires states to develop friendly relations amongst each other based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of the people. In this respect, the ICJ stated that there had been a number of instances where states had declared themselves as independent, despite opposition by the state from which independence was being declared. It can be stated that such a practice has, now, become an international norm. Article 2 of the UN Charter also prohibits the use of force against the political independence of a particular state. Similarly, Article 55 states that for peaceful and friendly relations among nations, states should protect the right of self-determination of the people. Furthermore, Article 76 lays emphasis on the social, economic and educational advancement of the inhabitants of trust territories and their progressive development towards self-government or independence. Lastly, the UNGA Resolution 2625(XXV) requires states to refrain, in their international relations, from the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state. This principle of customary international law was reaffirmed in the case of Nicaragua v United States. The discussion above is also well elaborated in the ICJ judgement which supports the view that the unilateral declaration of the independence of Kosovo does not violate any international law, nor does it go against the UN Charter, as indicated by the opponents of the ICJs decision. Recently, it is has been reported that Serbias President is ready to recognise Kosovos independence on three conditions: exterritory of orthodox monasteries, special status for the Serbs South of Iber River, and recognition of status quo in the north of Kosovo. Undoubtedly, this is a good signal for Kosovos independence. In this context, the German Foreign Minister called on all EU members to recognise Kosovos independence. Serbia has to seriously reconsider its stance about Kosovo's independence. Sixty-nine countries have already recognised Kosovos independence and it yet requires 31 states to get its fundamental right of independence. The writer is a research associate at the Research Society of International Law (RSIL), Pakistan.