Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 did not break international law, top UN judges have ruled in a non-binding decision.
The International Court of Justice rejected Serbian claims that the move had violated its territorial integrity.
Kosovo officials said all doubt about its status had now been removed, but Serbia's president insisted Belgrade would never recognise the secession.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
The US and many EU countries support independence; Russia is opposed.
Addressing the court in The Hague, ICJ president Hisashi Owada said international law contained "no applicable prohibition" of Kosovo's declaration of independence.
"Accordingly, [the court] concludes that the declaration of independence on 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law," he said.
Ten of the ICJ's judges supported the opinion; four opposed it.