The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Portrait of Jessica Almqvist. Photo.

Jessica Almqvist


Portrait of Jessica Almqvist. Photo.

The Politics of Recognition, Kosovo and International Law


  • Jessica Almqvist

Summary, in English

This working paper offers an international legal perspective on the diverse and conflicting international reactions in response to Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence on 17 February 2008. Considering the failure of the UN Security Council in conjuring up a common position, whether a condemnation or approval of Kosovo’s desire to become an independent and sovereign member of the international community, each State was left to decide, on its own terms, how to react. The Council’s failure is the upshot to what may be defined as the ‘politics of recognition’, ie, a diversity of differing and conflicting reactions of third States in response to the Kosovo Declaration, which reproduce the main positions in the original dispute rather than settling it.

Against this background, the aim of this paper is three-fold. First, it seeks to explain the emergence of these politics. Secondly, it examines the complex nature of the disagreement that lies behind the diverse reactions, which includes a consideration of the reasons behind the different positions of recognising and objecting States as well as an interpretation of why so many States have chosen to remain silent. Thirdly, the paper reflects on the unfortunate implications of these politics. While by no means discarding the inherent international legal dimensions to the original dispute between Pristina and Belgrade, and a role for the International Court of Justice, the paper expresses hesitation about the capacity of international law and the Court to settle the disagreement about international law that is now developing. Furthermore, an exclusive focus on international law detracts attention from the need to continue to approach realities on the ground with a view to establishing a sustainable peace in the Balkan region.


  • Public International Law

Publishing year





Elcano Royal Institute Working Papers Series



Document type

Working paper


Real Instituto Elcano /Elcano Royal Institute


  • Law


  • Public international law
  • Recognition of states
  • Kosovo
  • Folkrätt



Research group

  • Public International Law