ICJ dismisses Belgrade genocide claims against NATO states

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the
UN’s highest judicial body, has dismissed cases filed by Serbia and
Montenegro accusing eight NATO members of genocide during the
alliance’s 1999 bombings of Kosovo.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Serbia and
Montenegro’s claims against NATO members Belgium, Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Britain should be
rejected because the Balkan country was not a member
of the United Nations at the time the complaint was filed in April
1999. The ICJ can only rule on disputes between UN member
states, unless they have signed conventions giving the court
jurisdiction or two states agree to let the court consider its
dispute or if the UN Security Council refers a case for an advisory
opinion.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia claimed that the NATO
countries that took part in the 78-day bombing campaign in the
southern Serbian province violated international law,
and sought unspecified damages. Yugoslav authorities said
Nato bombs killed a huge number of civilians.

NATO’s 11-week bombing campaign forced a Serb withdrawal
from Kosovo, ending what the alliance regarded as a crackdown by
Serb forces against ethnic Albanians in the breakaway province
during former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic’s
rule. 

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was recognised as a UN member
in 2000, ending an ambiguous legal status sparked by the break-up
of the Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the early
1990s. The country changed its name to Serbia and
Montenegro in 2003.

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