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Copyright (c) 1999 The American Society of International Law
American Journal of International Law

ARTICLE: Editorial Comments: NATO's Kosovo Intervention: Kosovo, World Order, and the Future of International Law

October, 1999

93 A.J.I.L. 847


Richard A. Falk



Perhaps more fundamentally than any recent international occurrence, the NATO initiative on behalf of the Kosovars has provoked extremely divergent interpretations of what was truly at stake, the prudence of what was undertaken, and the bearing of law and morality on this course of events. This divergence of perspectives can be suggestively framed by reference to the positions adopted by two highly respected and morally engaged international figures: Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, and Robert Fisk, correspondent and feature writer for the British newspaper The Independent.

Acknowledging that the tactics adopted by NATO had given rise to controversy, Havel, in an address to the Canadian Senate and House of Commons on April 29, 1999, affirmed what was for him beyond controversy about the Kosovo undertaking:
But there is one thing no reasonable person can deny: this is probably the first war that has not been waged in the name of "national interests," but rather in the name of principles and values. If one can say of any war that it is ethical, or that it is being waged for ethical reasons, then it is true of this war. Kosovo has no oil fields to be coveted; no member nation in the alliance has any territorial demands on Kosovo; Milosevic does not threaten the territorial integrity of any member of the alliance. And yet the alliance is at war. It is fighting out of a concern for the fate of others. It ...

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