“Tracing the Illegitimacy of the Nagorno-Karabakh Regime in International Law”

  01 March 2018    Read: 3358
“Tracing the Illegitimacy of the Nagorno-Karabakh Regime in International Law”

by Dr. Kamran Balayev


The illegitimacy of the regime that currently occupies sovereign Azerbaijani territory in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is beyond doubt. In order to disseminate and instil this fact in the minds of our neighbours and partners, we will methodically outline the history of international condemnation for the illegal occupation.

In 1988, near the end of Soviet rule, Armenian secessionists began a bloody and brutal war that left the region in the hands of ethnic Armenians when a truce was signed in 1994. Negotiations have failed to produce a permanent peace settlement as shown by the recent Armenian aggression in the Four Day War in April 2016. The Nagorno-Karabakh War was fought between 1988 and 1994; it cost the lives of up to 30,000 people. It is important to note that the de-facto status of this disputed region is not recognised internationally.

There are several key pieces of international legislation that we must draw our attention to. In 1993 the United Nations collectively condemned the occupation of Azerbaijani territory. They went as far as demanding the ‘immediate and unconditional withdrawal’ of all the Armenian occupiers from the region. These demands were contained in various Security Council Resolutions; 822, 853, 874 and 884. Of course the current status quo shows that Armenia never paid attention to this pressure and the UN did not have the will to enforce it. We have not forgotten though and want to remind the international community of their pledges. It is noteworthy that Armenia additionally ignored resolutions from the Council of Europe and the European Parliament that condemned the occupation of the Azerbaijani region and the ethnic cleansing that occurred. It is a simple fact that the Nagorno-Karabakh region is de jure, in law, a part of Azerbaijan. The Armenian occupiers will never be able to escape this truth. The various elections that they try and hold are not recognised, the OSCE Minsk Group and the OIC countries condemn them.

Though the United Nations has not had the will to enforce their legislation they did decide to pass, by a majority vote, a new resolution in March 2008 at the General Assembly that confirms our territorial integrity and right. It once again demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the occupied territories. This shows that the conviction of our international partners on the rightful and legitimate occupants of the land has not changed in the years that have passed. Nagorno-Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan.

To reaffirm our case, on 20 May 2010, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that stated that the EU must pursue a strategy to promote stability and conflict resolution in the South Caucasus region. The resolution, in the same mind of the United Nations, calls on Armenian forces to withdraw from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

One of the main motivations for this European resolution was to allow the displaced persons to return to their homes. It is a horrible fact that after the ceasefire the illegitimate administration engaged in a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing. They launched various programs which sought to bring in permanent Armenian settlers into regions previously lived in by Azeris. This is a clear and blatant breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Notably Armenia is a signatory of this convention. It states that an occupying power must not deport or transfer parts of its own population into occupied territories. Armenia has even settled some of the 17,000 Armenians from Syria in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to give credibility to any future claim they attempt to have in the region. This is artificial and an exploitation of refugee’s, who are in a tragic situation, for political purposes.

The occupiers in the Nagorno-Karabakh region are entirely illegitimate. They have perpetrated many crimes against the humanity and as Azerbaijanis we will never rest until our homeland is restored.

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