United Nations Security Council resolution 1244, adopted on 10 June 1999, after recalling resolutions 1160 (1998), 1199 (1998), 1203 (1998) and 1239 (1999), authorised an international civil and military presence in Kosovo (which was part of called "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia") and established the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). It followed agreement by President Milošević of FRY to terms proposed by Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and Russia's Chernomyrdin on 8 June, involving withdrawal of all Yugoslav state forces from Kosovo (Annex 2 of the Resolution).
Resolution 1244 was adopted by 14 votes to none against. China abstained despite being critical of the NATO offensive, particularly the bombing of its embassy. It argued that the conflict should be settled by the FRY Government and its people and was opposed to external intervention. However, as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia accepted the peace proposal, China did not veto the resolution.
In the preamble of Resolution 1244, the Security Council regretted that there had not been compliance with previous resolutions It was determined to resolve the serious humanitarian situation and wanted to ensure that all refugees could safely return. It condemned violence against the civilian population as well as acts of terrorism, and recalled the jurisdiction and mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It also recalled the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and other states in the region, and reaffirmed its call for meaningful autonomy and self-administration for Kosovo.
The resolution was enacted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
The Security Council decided that a solution to the Kosovo crisis was to be based upon the agreed principles contained in the annexes of the resolution. It welcomed Serbian (then called "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia") acceptance of the principles and demanded co-operation in their implementation. At the same time, the Council demanded that the Serbia put an end to repression in Kosovo and begin a phased withdrawal; after withdrawal a small number of Yugoslav and Serbian military and police personnel could return to Kosovo, if authorised by the international military presence, to carry out functions contained in the annex of the resolution.
The resolution then authorised an international civil and security presence in Kosovo. The Secretary-General was requested to appoint a Special Representative to co-ordinate the implementation of the international presence. The Council authorised countries and international organisations to establish a security presence in Kosovo, affirming the need for the immediate deployment of the international civil and security presences. The responsibilities of the international security presence included deterring new hostilities, monitoring the withdrawal of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, demilitarising the Kosovo Liberation Army and other Kosovo Albanian groups and ensuring a safe environment in which refugees could return.
The Secretary-General was authorised to establish an international civilian presence in Kosovo to provide an interim administration whereby Kosovo could exercise governance - pending a final status solution - through the establishment of provisional institutions of self-government. The main responsibilities of the international civil presence included the promotion of autonomy for Kosovo, performing civilian administrative functions, overseeing the development of the institutions including the holding of elections, maintaining law and order, protecting human rights and ensuring the safe return of refugees.
The Council emphasised the need for humanitarian relief operations and encouraged all states and organisations to contribute towards economic and social reconstruction. All parties, including the international presence, had to co-operate with the ICTY. It demanded that armed Kosovan groups end their offensives.
Finally, it was decided that the international civil and security presences were to be established for an initial period of 12 months, while the Secretary-General was requested to keep the Council informed on developments. Unusually for UN peace-keeping missions, this one was to continue after the initial 12-month period unless the Security Council determined otherwise: normally, the continuing mandate of missions is subject to resolutions after 12 months which allow for revisions to the original mandate.
The main features of Resolution 1244 were to:
Article 1 of the Helsinki Final Act places a high value on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of existing states. In a similar fashion the references to autonomy in 1244 articles indicate a desire by UN Member-States at that time to return Kosovo to a pre-1990 autonomous status, if possible.
But the EU's Venice Commission noted that: "With respect to substantial autonomy, an examination of the Constitution, and more specifically of Part VII, makes it clear that this substantial autonomy of Kosovo is not at all guaranteed at the constitutional level, as the Constitution delegates almost every important aspect of this autonomy to the legislature....it is clear that ordinary law can restrict the autonomy of the Provinces.
This possibility of restricting the autonomy of the Provinces by law is confirmed by almost every article of Part 7 of the Constitution...
Hence, in contrast with what the preamble announces, the Constitution itself does not at all guarantee substantial autonomy to Kosovo, for it entirely depends on the willingness of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia whether self-government will be realised or not."
"Substantial autonomy" under the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution required Kosovo acceptance of any laws restricting its authority.
Serbia sought international validation for its stance, and in October 2008 requested a judgement from the International Court of Justice. However, the Court ruled that the declaration of independence was legal.
On 17 February 2008 representatives of the people of Kosovo, acting outside the UNMIK's PISG framework (not representing the Assembly of Kosovo or any other of these institutions), issued a declaration of independence establishing the Republic of Kosovo. On 22 July 2010 the International Court of Justice ruled that the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law, Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) or the Constitutional Framework, because the authors of the declaration, who named themselves "representatives of the people of Kosovo" were not bound by those documents. The declaration of independence was legal.
A key argument on the Kosovo side was that Article 1 of the Helsinki Final Act makes the continued territorial integrity of sovereignty of states conditional upon their willingness and ability to guarantee the fundamental human rights also defined in the Final Act.
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