Monthly Archives: July 2010

New CITSEE Working Paper Available

The CITSEE team is proud to announce that yet another working paper on citizenship regimes in the former Yugoslav states is now available.

Only a week after much-anticipated and highly commented ruling of the International Court of Justice that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate general international law (see CITSEE blog on the subject), CITSEE’s working papers series has been enriched with a paper dealing precisely with some key aspects of state-building efforts in Kosovo.

Working paper 2010/10, Citizenship as a Tool of State-Building in Kosovo: Status, Rights and Identity in the new State, is the result of original research undertaken by CITSEE Researcher Gezim Krasniqi, and builds upon the previous paper published by the same author within our working paper series.

The paper examines the emergence of an autonomous citizenship regime in Kosovo, with a particular focus on citizenship as a tool of state-building. It argues that in the case of Kosovo citizenship is meant to serve as a link between a war-torn community of people and a new polity based on principles of equality and all inclusiveness, or, as a tool of political integration within the new political entity, which aims at replacing divisions of ethnicity, religion or social status.

In addition, it looks at the impact of the tension between the ethno-cultural and political aspects of nationhood in the ongoing state-building process in Kosovo, as well as the stateness problem and contested statehood on citizenship policies.

During this summer CITSEE is looking forward to welcoming two further papers, on Macedonia and on Albania.

International Court of Justice Opinion on Kosovo

On 22 July 2010, in a much-anticipated opinion, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), found that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate general international law. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008 and up to July 2010 it had been recognised by 69 states. Serbia, which strongly opposes Kosovo’s independence, sponsored a draft-resolution at the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) to request an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The question on which the advisory opinion of the Court was requested was put forth in Resolution 63/3 adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 8 October 2008. The Court was requested to render an advisory opinion on the following question: ‘Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?’

Contrary to the general expectations, the Court delivered a unequivocal opinion, concluding that “the adoption of the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law, Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) or the Constitutional Framework. Consequently the declaration did not violate any applicable rule of international law.” Such an opinion in favour of Kosovo is considered crucial for the new state in its efforts to strengthen its statehood and international subjectivity. In addition, it is expected to increase the pressure on many countries that have not recognised Kosovo (including 5 European Union Member States) to do so, and on the state of Serbia to moderate its policy toward Kosovo. A new round of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia on many issues of common concern and interest is thus expected to commence soon.

This opinion will certainly affect the emerging citizenship regime in Kosovo in many ways. To begin with, a new wave of recognitions, predicted by many, will create new opportunities for Kosovo to join various international and regional political organizations, allowing Kosovo to adhere to crucial human rights instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights. Second, the ICJ Opinion is expected to pave the way for new political dynamics within the European Union (EU) regarding its stance on Kosovo. EU’s eventual capacity to speak with one voice when it comes to Kosovo will help the former’s Rule and Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) to overcome its deadlock position (which is a consequence of the ‘status-neutral’ approach) and assist Kosovar institutions in exercising their authority throughout the territory of Kosovo. Finally, an eventual dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade may assist with solving troublesome issues such as customs in the northern Kosovo, travel documents, refugees, property, which are essential for the new state and its efforts to consolidate an autonomous citizenship regime.  


Sources and further readings:

ICJ Opinion

Legal commentary on the Opinion

CITSEE Working Paper on Kosovo

ECtHR holds Slovenia responsible for the ‘Erasure’

The ruling in the case of Kuric and others v. Slovenia (application no. 26828/06), of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has concluded that the "Erasure" from the Slovenian Register of Permanent Residents of eight out of the eleven applicants constituted a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), which protects private and family life. In the ruling delivered on 13 July 2010, the ECtHR also found Slovenia in breach of Article 13 of the ECHR, due to the failure of the state authorities to provide the applicants with an effective remedy before a domestic authority.

The applicants contended that their names had been removed from Register of Permanent Residents on 26 February 1992. The removal of 18,305 citizens (data published by the Slovenian government) from the Register occurred at the time of the Yugoslav dissolution. The ‘erased' were citizens of the other republics of the former Yugoslavia who resided in Slovenia at the time of its independence, but who did not obtain Slovene citizenship under Article 40 of the 1991 Citizenship Act. The ‘erased' were ‘new minorities', which included ethnic Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Kosovans or Roma, that is, mostly people who at the time of the Yugoslav dissolution possessed the federal citizenship and the citizenship of a republic other than Slovenia but had long term factual residence in Slovenia. While some of the ‘erased' had no interest in obtaining Slovenian citizenship, others were unaware that they were not Slovenian citizens, or their applications were rejected on the grounds of the belief that they posed a threat to public order or the security of Slovenia (Article 40, para.3). In some instances, the ‘erased' were persons who had been granted citizenship of Slovenia, but whose citizenship was subsequently withdrawn by the state authorities.

The consequence of the ‘Erasure' for the applicants was that they were denied access to Slovenian citizenship, thus leaving some of them de facto stateless. The applicants also maintained that the removal of their names from the Register of Permanent Residents had multiple negative effects on their lives, including expulsion from Slovenia, eviction from their homes, and discrimination in access to healthcare or other social provisions. On the basis of the evidence provided in support of these claims, the ECtHR ruled that Slovenia was in breach of Articles 8 and 13 of the ECHR, and that it was bound to undertake the appropriate measures to enable the applicants to exercise their right to a private and/or family life and to ensure them access to effective remedies in this respect.

In view of this ruling, the ECtHR has been criticised by the Equal Rights Trust (ERT, a third-party intervener in the case), because the Court ruled that no separate violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) had occurred in conjunction with Article 8 of the ECHR. This approach contrasts sharply to the use of Article 14 in the recent Finci and Sejdic v. Bosnia and Herzegovina case on the exclusion of members of the Jewish and Roma minorities from political participation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, noted in this blog. In their reaction to the judgment, ERT claimed that the ECtHR failed to adopt a groundbreaking decision, which could have developed into an ‘authoritative legal standard on the equality and non-discrimination of stateless persons' (ERT 2010).

Sources and further readings:

ECtHR Judgment

ERRC Report on Roma in Slovenia
ERT's submission to the ECtHR
ERT report on statelessness
EUDO Report on Slovenia

New CITSEE Working Paper Available

The CITSEE team is pleased to announce the publication of a further working paper in its series dealing with the citizenship regimes in the former Yugoslav states.

Working paper 2010/9, entitled A Citizenship Beyond the Nation-State: Dilemmas of the ‘Europeanisation’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina presents original research undertaken by CITSEE Associate Researcher Eldar Sarajlic. It offers an in-depth analysis of citizenship dilemmas in Bosnia and Herzegovina and builds upon the findings published in the previous paper by the same author, within our working papers series.

This paper deals with the tension between the predominant ideas of citizenship in Bosnia and Herzegovina and those imposed upon the country by the EU integration dynamic. It tries to argue that the tension between citizenship as a concept moulded within the historical and conceptual parameters of the European nation-state and the complex sociopolitical reality of Bosnia and Herzegovina that clearly diverges from the nation-state model creates frictions and erodes the democratization process.

In addition, it offers an analysis of citizenship legislation in Bosnia ad Herzegovina and a variety of historical, political and social determinants that have shaped the existing citizenship regime in the country. By doing this, it aims to examine the character of citizenship in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina, to question the social and political underpinnings of its historical development, to assess the possibility for the establishment of a liberal democratic citizenship framework and to chart a way for explaining new developments, driven by European integration processes.

CITSEE is very much looking forward to the publication of further papers later in the summer on Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania.

CITSEE Advisory Board holds its first meeting

The CITSEE Conference on Theories and Practice of Citizenship in the New Balkan States held on 24 and 25 June 2010 was also the occasion for the first meeting of the CITSEE Advisory Board.

The Advisory Board brings together a number of distinguished academics working in the field of South Eastern European and Central and Eastern European Studies. The Board reviews CITSEE's work regularly and provides input and suggestions on how it might develop in the future. It is interdisciplinary and international in character, including colleagues from the social and political sciences, as well as literary and cultural studies, and this was reflected in the discussions held between the academic team and the Board. These focused in particular on how CITSEE's findings can best be disseminated to a variety of audiences, including those in the region of the former Yugoslavia.