Before 1991, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia comprised six constituent republics, including the “Socialist Republic of Macedonia”. In the course of the break-up of Yugoslavia, the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia adopted (on 25 January 1991) the “Declaration on the Sovereignty of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia”, which asserted sovereignty and the right of self-determination. On 7 June 1991, the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia enacted a constitutional amendment, changing the name “Socialist Republic of Macedonia” to the “Republic of Macedonia”. The Assembly then adopted a declaration asserting the sovereignty and independence of the new State and sought international recognition.
On 30 July 1992, the Applicant submitted an application for membership in the United Nations. The Respondent objected to the Applicant’s admission on the basis of the Applicant’s adoption of the name “Republic of Macedonia”, among other factors. The Respondent explained that its opposition was based inter alia on its view that the term “Macedonia” referred to a geographical region in south-east Europe that included an important part of the territory and population of the Respondent and of certain third States. The Respondent further indicated that once a settlement had been reached on these issues, it would no longer oppose the Applicant’s admission to the United Nations. The Respondent had also expressed opposition on similar grounds to the Applicant’s recognition by the member States of the European Community.
On 7 April 1993, in accordance with Article 4, paragraph 2, of the Charter, the Security Council adopted resolution 817 (1993), concerning the “application for admission to the United Nations” of the Applicant. In that resolution, noting that “a difference has arisen over the name of the Applicant, which needs to be resolved in the interest of the maintenance of peaceful and good-neighbourly relations in the region”, the Security Council:
“1. Urge[d] the parties to continue to cooperate with the Co-Chairmen of the Steering Committee of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia in order to arrive at a speedy settlement of their difference;
- Recommend[ed] to the General Assembly that the State whose application is contained in document S/25147 be admitted to membership in the United Nations, this State being provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ pending settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the State;
- Request[ed] the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the outcome of the initiative taken by the Co-Chairmen of the Steering Committee of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia.”
On 8 April 1993, the Applicant was admitted to the United Nations, following the adoption by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council, of resolution A/RES/47/225. On 18 June 1993, in light of the continuing absence of a settlement of the difference over the name, the Security Council adopted resolution 845 (1993) urging the Parties “to continue their efforts under the auspices of the Secretary-General to arrive at a speedy settlement of the remaining issues between them”.
Following its admission to the United Nations, the Applicant became a member of various specialized agencies of the United Nations system. However, its efforts to join several other non-United Nations affiliated international institutions and organizations, of which the Respondent was already a member, were not successful. On 16 February 1994, the Respondent instituted trade-related restrictions against the Applicant.
Against this backdrop, on 13 September 1995, the Parties signed the Interim Accord, providing for the establishment of diplomatic relations between them and addressing other related issues. The Interim Accord refers to the Applicant as “Party of the Second Part” and to the Respondent as “Party of the First Part”, so as to avoid using any contentious name. Under its Article 5, the Parties
“agreed to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations pursuant to Security Council resolution 845 (1993) with a view to reaching agreement on the difference described in that resolution and in Security Council resolution 817 (1993)”.
In the Interim Accord, the Parties also addressed the admission of, and membership by, the Applicant in international organizations and institutions of which the Respondent was a member. In this regard, Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord provide:
“Upon entry into force of this Interim Accord, the Party of the First Part agrees not to object to the application by or the membership of the Party of the Second Part in international, multilateral and regional organizations and institutions of which the Party of the First Part is a member; however, the Party of the First Part reserves the right to object to any membership referred to above if and to the extent the Party of the Second Part is to be referred to in such organization or institution differently than in paragraph 2 of United Nations Security Council resolution 817 (1993).”
In the period following the adoption of the Interim Accord, the Applicant was granted membership in a number of international organizations of which the Respondent was already a member. On the invitation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Applicant in 1995 joined the Organization’s Partnership for Peace (a programme that promotes co-operation between NATO and partner countries) and, in 1999, the Organization’s Membership Action Plan (which assists prospective NATO members). The Applicant’s NATO candidacy was considered in a meeting of NATO member States in Bucharest (“Bucharest Summit”) but the Applicant was not invited to begin talks on accession to the Organization. The communiqué issued at the end of the Summit stated that an invitation would be extended to the Applicant “as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached”.
In the present case, the Applicant maintain that the Respondent failed to comply with Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord. The Respondent disagree with this contention both in terms of the facts and of the law, that is, in regard to the meaning, scope and effect of certain provisions of the Interim Accord. In the view of the Court, this is the dispute the Applicant brought before the Court, and thus the dispute in respect of which the Court’s jurisdiction falls to be determined.
The Respondent claim that the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the present case.
The Court found that the Respondent’s objection to the admissibility of the Application based on the alleged lack of effect of the Court’s Judgment could not be upheld.
Whether the Court’s Judgment would interfere with ongoing diplomatic negotiations
The Respondent contends that if the Court were to exercise its jurisdiction, it would interfere with the diplomatic process envisaged by the Security Council in resolution 817 (1993) and this would be contrary to the Court’s judicial function. It argues that a judgment by the Court in favour of the Applicant “would judicially seal a unilateral practice of imposing a disputed name and would thus run contrary to Security Council resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), requiring the Parties to reach a negotiated solution on this difference”. The Respondent thus submits that, on the basis of judicial propriety, the Court should decline to exercise its jurisdiction
Accordingly, the Respondent’s objection to the admissibility of the Application based on the alleged interference of the Court’s Judgment with ongoing diplomatic negotiations mandated by the Security Council cannot be upheld.
Whether the respondent failed to comply with the obligation under article 11, paragraph 1, of the interim accord
In the view of the Court, the evidence submitted to it demonstrates that through formal diplomatic correspondence and through statements of its senior officials, the Respondent made clear before, during and after the Bucharest Summit that the resolution of the difference over the name was the “decisive criterion” for the Respondent to accept the Applicant’s admission to NATO. The Respondent manifested its objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO at the Bucharest Summit, citing the fact that the difference regarding the Applicant’s name remained unresolved.
The Court therefore concluded that the Respondent objected to the Applicant’s admission to NATO, within the meaning of the first clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord.
The effect of the second clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord
The Court then considered the question whether the Respondent’s objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO at the Bucharest Summit fell within the exception contained in the second clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord.
The Court concluded that the Applicant’s intention to refer to itself in an international organization by its constitutional name did not mean that it was “to be referred to” in such organization “differently than in” paragraph 2 of resolution 817. Accordingly, the exception set forth in the second clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord did not entitle the Respondent to object to the Applicant’s admission to NATO.
The Court found a violation by the Respondent of its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord. As to possible remedies for such a violation, the Court found that a declaration that the Respondent violated its obligation not to object to the Applicant’s admission to or membership in NATO was warranted. But the Court did not consider it necessary to order the Respondent to refrain from any future conduct that violated its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord.
The Court accordingly determined that its finding that the Respondent has violated its obligation to the Applicant under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord, constituted appropriate satisfaction.