The court rejected Serbia's claim on Thrusday that Kosovo violated the international law on territorial integrity when it unilaterally declared its independence. The court's opinion was different. The president of the International Court of Justice Hisashi Owada said international law contains no "prohibition on declarations of independence."
This is the first time that on such a high level the people's right of self-determination takes precedence over another UN charter: the territorial integrity. The opposite ruling by the International Court of Justice would not change much about Kosovo's status and would rather propose to make a settlement with Serbia. The resolution is non-binding. However, this resolution is more important for other break-away regions such as Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazia and Ossetia than Kosovo.
For example consider the case of Nagorno Karabakh. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in a two-decade long dispute about people's right of self determination in Nagorno Karabakh. Armenia stands for the region's right to express its will in a referendum, which is also marked by the Madrid Principles set forward by the Minsk group. Azerbaijan says it will violate its territorial integrity as clearly the Armenian majority of Nagorno Karabakh will vote for independence. Thus, Armenia and Azerbaijan so far had two different opinions about which principle takes precedence, people's right of self determination or the territorial integrity of states.
Today's ruling on Kosovo clearly says that independence of a region from a state can be legal and that Kosovo's right of self-determination takes precedence over Serbia's claim of territorial integrity.
If yes to Kosovo, why not Karabakh, Abkhazia and S. Ossetia
The leaders in Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia have been referencing Kosovo to make their case for independence. Now the leadership of Gerogia and Azerbaijan will have a very difficult time to explain the international community why should these people not have the right to choose their own future.
Hopefully this ruling will instead speed up the process of conflict resolution between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Georgia and its own break-away regions. Hopefully today's ruling makes the peace agreement in the Southern Caucasus one step closer with the leaders of the region looking at the matter in more realistic way.