Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Five years after the Iraq protests, a question

Spotted in a decent French article on Kosovo’s independence, a throwaway line that made me ponder:

L’indépendance du Kosovo se fera sous supervision internationale. Malgré ces divisions, l’Union européenne a décidé, sans l’aval de l’ONU, de déployer au Kosovo une mission de quelque 2 000 policiers et juristes pour « accompagner » les débuts de l’indépendance du Kosovo.

Or, in other words:

The independence of Kosovo will be under international supervision. Despite this, the European Union has decided, without UN approval, to deploy in Kosovo, a mission of some 2000 policemen and lawyers to “accompany” the beginnings of the independence of Kosovo. [emphasis mine]

Of course, a significant reason why the anti-war protests back in 2003 felt so justified to so many was the lack of a UN resolution supporting military action against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. There are no such protests about unilateral military action in Kosovo – nor have there really ever been during the last decade of NATO deployments there.

Is this because Kosovo is too low-profile for anyone to really care – or is there a more significant, wider-ranging reason?

Kosovo has declared independence. Many western countries – including the UK and US – are likely to declare their official recognition. Russia has explicitly stated the declaration to be illegal – and China has also made disapproving noises.

With two members of the UN Security Council opposed to Kosovo’s independence, it cannot be recognised by the UN – and so will not legally be a state, despite thinking it is. Likewise, the situation in Darfur is officially not a genocide (despite all the evidence) thanks to the UN having failed to declare it as such – partially thanks to pressure from China, keen to preserve her arms trade.

In situations such as these, is it acceptable to bypass the UN? If so, why here and not five years ago in Iraq? And, if bypassing the UN is sometimes acceptable, what useful purpose does this supposed final arbiter of international law actually serve any more? And does the lack of protests over military action in Kosovo indicate an acknowledgement of this?