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Conference on Yugoslavia Arbitration Commission: Opinion No. 1

Arbitration Commission of the Conference on Yugoslavia
31 I.L.M 1494 (1992)


The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia) was established after World War I and consisted of land that had been taken from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Yugoslavia contained numerous ethnic groups concentrated into six individual republics: Serbia (defendant), Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia (plaintiffs). In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, with Macedonia and Bosnia following suit shortly after. However, Serbs living in Bosnia and Croatia rebelled against separation from Serbia, and in 1992, Serbia declared its own independence as the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In response to the unrest and violence occurring in Croatia and Bosnia, the European Community (EC), a 12-member international organization, called the Conference on Yugoslavia (the Conference) to resolve disputes in the region. The Conference set up the Arbitration Commission, consisting of the heads of five European constitutional courts, to answer legal questions arising from the transformation of the region. One of the main issues before the Arbitration Commission was the issue of self-determination of national groups in the area. The president of the Conference posed numerous questions to the Arbitration Commission, first asking whether the situation in Yugoslavia constituted (1) a secession of the various republics from Yugoslavia, as Serbia argued, or (2) a dissolution of the entire country as a whole, as the rest of the republics argued.

Rule of Law

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The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

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Holding and Reasoning

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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