The International Court of Justice has declared that Kosovo's independence is perfectly legal in the frame of international law. The decision was taken by ten votes against four.
The resolution clearly states that no international law forbade Kosovo from unilaterally declaring its independence and that there is no norm in international law addressing this matter. Furthermore it declares that the Kosovar Assembly had power to take decisions that affected its legal status.
This is symbolically important because it means that any democratic assembly of any entity can unilaterally declare its independence on the eyes of international law. Chechnya can, Catalonia can, Scotland can, Abkhazia can... and the Basque Country can become independent at whim of its democratically elected institutions.
Your country or subnational area forms no any unified administrative unit, as may be the case with the Northern Basque Country or parts of Kurdistan? No big deal: each of its towns can declare their independence and then aggregate themselves in a larger polity at whim.
It may sound I am being sarcastic but I am not: this is real democracy, where the people decides at all levels. It is the test of true democracy: if you cannot swallow that, then you are surely a fascist, covert or openly.
However, touching ground, the reality is that a lot depends of what effective foreign supports you can muster. Abkhazia is independent because it is supported by Russia, while neighboring Chechnya is not because it is confronting Russia. Similarly Kosovo is independent because it has the support of NATO while the Basque Country or Kurdistan are not because Spain and Turkey are members of NATO.
But it is still a relevant resolution that I welcome. Since the decolonization process, when a lot of artificially formed states arose, specially in Africa but also in West Asia, challenging established borders has been a taboo. The taboo was broken by the many independences of Eastern Europe in the 1990s, however a new fetish was created: that in order to be able to self-determinate, the subject of that right had to be ranked as federative republic, a was the case of Croatia or Estonia. But that is nothing but a political fetish because producing such statuses or not is generally a historical decision of the factual state, some of which have been more understanding on the national issues, specially the Socialist ones, producing federal structures, while others have been not producing centralized Jacobin structures or intermediate regional autonomies, which may or not be what the various peoples really want.
In the case of Kosovo, it was not granted status of republic under Tito, which was their first demand in the late 1980s and early 1990s, only because the dominant ethnicity was not Slavic... and Yugoslavia was conceived as a Slavic state. So this very decision amounted to an act of racism, an injustice that would eventually cause the total disintegration of Yugoslavia. Because, let's face it: it all began in Kosovo.
Similarly the lack of capability of Spain to define itself in the plurinational terms of its reality will soon cause its implosion. It is something unavoidable when you have millions demonstrating at the streets crying at once: "we are a nation!" It's just a matter of time.
I often mention the conversation we had in Skopje in the winter of 1993 with a local liberal politician, where he claimed that a CIA agent had told him that Yugoslavia had lost its strategical relevance. Our interlocutor told him: I am glad to hear that. And the spy replied: I would not be so happy if my country would lose its strategical relevance.
I recently mentioned that Europe as a whole is now losing strategical relevance as the geopolitical scenario moves to Asia and EU is totally unable to become a federation with a powerful self to compete in such a complex scenario and instead relies too much on the vassalage to the USA.
As Europe, and specially Western Europe loses its geostrategical importance, we can at least now hope for the much awaited scenario of internal decolonization, protracted for so long. Just like Eastern Europe experienced this decolonization with the demise of the USSR, Western Europe can only expect to achieve this democratic goal with the demise of NATO and EU.
I am Europeist but I am for a very different kind of united Europe, not this crappy marketplace for the oligarchs and commonwealth of fossil old glory polities. To build something decent, we have to demolish first.
Source of the legal details: Gara[es]