Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia did not violate general international law, the UN's highest court has ruled.

The non-binding ruling from the International Court of Justice addresses Serbia's 2009 claim that Kosovo's secession was a 'flagrant violation' of its territorial integrity.

The US and most other Western states recognised Kosovo's February 2008 declaration of independence. However, Serbia rejected it, as did its ally Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The case could have implications for separatist movements around the world, as well as Belgrade's stalled EU membership talks.

The ruling is likely to lead to more countries recognising Kosovo's independence and move Pristina closer to entry into the UN.