What are the steps that Kosovo, or, if it's not about them, other countries must do, so it can be recognized as an independent country?

In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia.

As shown in wikipedia, currently it is a partly recognized state. Most of the EU nations (23/28) did recognize, but there are still Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia and Greece who did not.

Also, in the UN, there are many countries that do recognize, as well as many that do not (it's around 50-50).

Is actually the most important vote of Serbia, since Kosovo is/was part of their territory? Or even if Serbia never let it apart, can it be done by voting of the other countries?

  • 3
    It is worth adding some background and references - particularly regarding the current status of Kosovo. Mar 24, 2022 at 12:20
  • 12
    Well, according to 97 countries, Kosovo is already an independent country, which leaves about 100 countries which do not recognize Kosovo. These countries probably all have different reasons for not recognizing Kosovo, and I doubt that all of them made a clear statement regarding what would be required. So in order to fully answer this question, one would have to research about 100 countries, and end up speculating about most of them. Isn't that asking a bit much?!?
    – Philipp
    Mar 24, 2022 at 12:39
  • 3
    @aca "globally recognized" is a label which has a lot less practical meaning than you seem to attribute to it. Israel is technically not recognized by all UN members either and still does pretty fine. Perhaps you should rather ask for something that actually means something in practice. Like for example UN membership.
    – Philipp
    Mar 24, 2022 at 12:55
  • 2
    @aca You tell us! What would "international recognition" of Kosovo change in your opinion? How are we supposed to answer this question to your satisfaction when you don't define what the question is actually asking about?
    – Philipp
    Mar 24, 2022 at 12:59
  • 6
    @aca I don't think "globally recognised" is a thing with any precise definition or legal status. Each country can recognise or not the sovereignty of any other country (and AFAIK all that means is that the recognising country treats them as such in their own domestic law - e.g. treating their passports as valid passports - , plus maybe a public statement). "Globally recognised" just means that most countries are treating you as a country. So it's a matter for diplomacy with each and every country in the world, separately. There's no specific procedure.
    – Ben
    Mar 24, 2022 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


The relevant Wikipedia articles are:
International recognition of Kosovo
Political status of Kosovo

There are three major points here:
Recognition by the other states
Although 97 states have recognized Kosovo independence, only 11 of them are G20 states. Some major states oppose recognition out of concern that Kosovo example may encourage separatist movements within their borders. E.g.,

Within the EU, key supporters of Kosovo's statehood include France[14] and Germany.[15] The strongest opponents to Kosovo's statehood within the EU include Spain[16][17] and Greece.[18] The Spanish non-recognition of Kosovo is linked to the Spanish government's opposition to the Basque and Catalan independence movements,[16] while the Greek non-recognition of Kosovo is linked to the Cyprus dispute and Greece's historic relationship to Serbia.[18]

Recognition by the UN
Kosovo is not recognized by Russia and China, which are among the 5 members holding veto power in the UN Security Council:

A number of states expressed concern over the unilateral character of Kosovo's declaration, or explicitly announced that they would not recognise an independent Kosovo. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) remains divided on this issue: of its five members with veto power, three (the United States, the United Kingdom, and France) have recognised the declaration of independence, while the People's Republic of China has expressed concern, urging the continuation of the previous negotiation framework. The Russian Federation has rejected the declaration and considers it illegal.[7] In May 2008, Russia, China, and India released a joint statement calling for new negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.[8]

Recognition by Serbia
Finally, Serbia considers Kosovo as its own territory, and therefore have the ability to block its de facto independence, even if such independence was possible de jure. The current autonomous status of Kosovo is governed by Brussels Agreement (2013) between Serbia and Kosovo.

Serbia main objection to Kosovo independence is that it would violate Serbia's territorial integrity, as guaranteed by the UN charter:

Serbia argues that Kosovo's independence would be a violation of Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and therefore contrary to the UN Charter and principles of international law.

The UN resolution 1244 seems to confirm Serbian view, urging a political solution to the crisis:

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, passed in 1999, reaffirmed in its preamble the "commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" and authorised "an international civil presence in Kosovo in order to provide an interim administration for Kosovo under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia", i.e. the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), with security provided by a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). The Resolution also authorised a process to determine Kosovo's final status. Concerning the latter, Annex 1 to the Resolution states that the "political solution to the Kosovo crisis" should take "full account of ... the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".

However NATO holds an opinion that Kosovo could be made independent without Serbian agreement:

A NATO report on the question of Kosovo's status states that a region may have the right of secession in the case of foreign occupation or if the region is a colony of another nation. The NATO report claims, while mentioning disagreement on the interpretation, that a third condition exists when "a people whose right to internal self-determination has been thoroughly violated by a Government that does not represent the people" and suggests Kosovo qualifies under this condition. It concludes, while there is a case in favor of a right to secession for Kosovo, it rejects the right to secession in cases where regions are open to democratic mechanisms.[70]

In this context it is worth looking into the Political status of Taiwan, which used to be representative of China in the UN and the UN security council, but was excluded from both, and replaced by the People's Republic of China. Since PRC follows one China policy, many countries (notably the US) do not officially consider it now as a country, although maintain de facto diplomatic, economic and military relationships with Taiwan.

  • 1
    Okay, so let's split this comment into 3 sections, all starting by the bold paragraph for clarity. What is the most important one of those 3, if it can be declared as such? I mean, let's say that China and Russia vote for Kosovo's recognition, would Serbia's consideration of Kosovo have any point?
    – aca
    Mar 24, 2022 at 12:51
  • 2
    @aca I added a bit more material in the end, regarding the Serbian objections. In principle, they have the UN charter on their side... but like any law it is subject to interpretation, as the NATO position shows. Mar 24, 2022 at 13:08
  • @aca Most important to do what? For some practical matters Kosovo is de facto an independant country, for some it is not. If you name some issue that current Kosovo or its citizen cannot do but other independent countries can, they one can answer which of the major points would need to be addressed.
    – quarague
    Mar 24, 2022 at 20:58

Kosovo is independent

Naturally, the definition of independence will vary from person to person, however in a pragmatic sense Kosovo is independent because it holds the monopoly of violence which is the legal use of force, and jurisdiction over an area.

A country could be recognized by no other country in the world, and still be independent from an autonomy perspective provided that they control the jurisdiction in the area.

A country can claim any territory, but that does not give them control over it. They need a monopoly over violence in order to achieve that.

How does Kosovo become fully recognized as an independent is a separate question.

There is a low chance that Kosovo will ever each full recognition due to the fact that Serbia will likely remain unwilling to recognize Kosovo as an independent country, but this is not needed to gain near global recognition

There are major nations such as China who are not recognized by all countries in the world - this doesn't affect China's independence in any major way.

In order to gain further recognition, Kosovo will need to build relations with more states across the world and play a diplomatic game in order to do this.

This will be difficult for the reason that many states will want to pick neither side at risk of upsetting Kosovo, or Serbia.

Kosovo has backing and recognition from most states that they interact with, either in trade, diplomacy, or military, and it doesn't necessarily matter that a state such as Serirra Leone doesn't recognize them.

There are many "micronations" (unrelated to microstates) who claim land but do not have any meaningful control over their territory, some examples include:

  1. Lumina
  2. Verdis
  3. See more

The process of establishing a state does not have a defined and codified standard.

Laws themselves are an abstract social construct, and the borders of a nation aren't a physical property of the universe. Neither are institutions, police or military - they are imaginary.

What is not imaginary, however, is the people which believe in such ideas, their resources and weapons.

Every country exists in people's minds through their beliefs.

  • 1
    According to your definition, the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine are independent... I see how many would object. Personally, I think that independent may mean many different things,a nd monopoly on violence is certainly one of them. +1 Mar 25, 2022 at 8:03

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