University of Pittsburgh
February 21, 2008

Pitt Faculty Expert says Bush Administration Continues to Pretend International Law is on the United States' Side

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Robert M. Hayden, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and East European Studies and author of "Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflict" (University of Michigan Press, 2000) is available to comment on the U.S. administration's impact on the Kosovo situation.

"You would have thought that pretending that international law is on our side when it isn't would be something the Bush administration might avoid after the disasters following the Iraq invasion, but you'd be wrong," says Hayden, who is also a professor of anthropology, law, and public and international affairs.

Hayden says, "We have in Serbia a situation in which the U.S. has forced an action-the proclamation of independence by the Kosovo Albanians that is in clear violation of the most fundamental principles of international law after World War II. Borders cannot be changed by force and without consent-that principle was actually the main stated reason for the 1991 U.S. attack on Iraq.

"The tragic thing is that negotiations could have resolved this. Borders can be changed, but it has to be without force and with consent. Serbia may well have agreed to proposals whereby Kosovo gets independence, but Serbia retained some territory and a special status was created for the major Serbian cultural and religious sites. Unfortunately, U.S. officials prevented serious negotiation by taking the position that if there was no agreement reached between the Albanians and Serbia, the Albanians would get everything they were demanding.

"Now, you will have a bizarre situation in which Kosovo has been recognized by the United States and some other countries, but will not be admitted into the United Nations and other major bodies and thus have no international legal status. Countries such as Spain, Romania, Cyprus, and Greece have not and will not recognize Kosovo independence because of the fear that it will set a precedent for secessionist movements in their countries, and is in any event a severe violation of international law."

"Worse, in northern Kosovo, NATO is now in the position of trying to defend a boundary that is not an international border, and which is not recognized as a border by the people living on either side of it, who are thus very hostile to NATO. This is a dangerous situation, and entirely the creation of the Bush administration."

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