Istanbul Law Review
The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict from the Perspective of International Law and the Armistice Agreement Ending the Second Nagorno-Karabakh WarCüneyt Yüksel, Hamza Yüce
The long-standing tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the South Caucasus, which became a frozen conflict for many years due to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, evolved into an armed conflict in the last months of 2020. This conflict is known as the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and lasted for 44 days. Even though Armenia is the party responsible for starting the war by committing armed attacks on Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan immediately responded to these unlawful acts on the grounds of its right to self-defense. This war caused many casualties for both sides and ended with the Armistice Agreement signed on November 9, 2020.
The first section of this article focuses particularly on the previous ceasefire processes and diplomatic initiatives as well as their historical development prior to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. The second section addresses the start of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War alongside the violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law Armenia committed during the war. The final section examines in detail the provisions of the Armistice Agreement of November 9, 2020. This article’s conclusion underlines that no provision is present in the Armistice Agreement that determines the final status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Hence, the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute is still an actual conflict that must be subjected to a resolution. Therefore, it is important to have the relevant actors, including Turkey, put effort into achieving a final peace agreement as well as a long-term peaceful settlement regarding the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Uluslararası Hukuk Açısından Dağlık Karabağ Sorunu ve İkinci Dağlık Karabağ Savaşı’nı Sona Erdiren Ateşkes AndlaşmasıCüneyt Yüksel, Hamza Yüce
Güney Kafkasya’da Azerbaycan ile Ermenistan arasında Dağlık Karabağ sorunu nedeniyle uzun yıllardır dondurulmuş bir ihtilaf olarak devam eden gerginlik 2020 yılının son aylarında yerini geniş kapsamlı bir silahlı çatışmaya bırakmıştır. İkinci Dağlık Karabağ Savaşı olarak adlandırılan bu çatışma süreci 44 gün sürmüştür. Ermenistan ilk saldırıyı başlatan taraf olsa da Azerbaycan buna derhal meşru müdafaa hakkıyla karşılık vermiş ve savaş boyunca sağladığı askeri üstünlük ile önemli kazanımlar elde etmiştir. İki taraf için de ağır zayiatlar doğuran bu çatışmalar 9 Kasım 2020 tarihinde imzalanan Ateşkes Andlaşması ile sona ermiştir.
Bu makalede, ilk olarak Dağlık Karabağ sorununun tarihi gelişimi ortaya konulmakta ve bu arka plandan hareketle İkinci Dağlık Karabağ Savaşı ile bu savaşı bitiren 9 Kasım 2020 tarihli Ateşkes Andlaşması uluslararası hukuk açısından detaylı bir şekilde ele alınmaktadır. İlk bölümde özellikle geçmiş ateşkes süreçlerine ve diplomatik girişimlere odaklanılmaktadır. İkinci bölümde ise İkinci Dağlık Karabağ Savaşı’nın başlangıcı ile birlikte savaş boyunca Ermenistan tarafından gerçekleşmiş olan uluslararası insancıl hukuk ve uluslararası insan hakları hukuku ihlalleri değerlendirilmektedir. Son bölümde ise 9 Kasım 2020 tarihli Ateşkes Andlaşması’nın hükümleri detaylı bir şekilde incelenmektedir. Bu değerlendirmelerin neticesinde 9 Kasım 2020 tarihli Ateşkes Andlaşması’nda Dağlık Karabağ bölgesinin nihai statüsünü belirleyen herhangi bir hükmün yer almadığının altı çizilmektedir. Bu nedenle Dağlık Karabağ sorunu çözülmesi gereken güncel bir mesele olarak varlığını sürdürmeye devam etmektedir. Dolayısıyla makalede, Dağlık Karabağ bölgesinin nihai statüsüne ilişkin bir barış andlaşmasının imzalanması ve böylece kesin bir çözümün sağlanabilmesi için Türkiye’nin de içerisinde yer aldığı ilgili aktörlerin çaba göstermesinin önemi vurgulanmaktadır.
The long-standing tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the South Caucasus have been a frozen conflict for many years due to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and evolved into an armed conflict in the last months of 2020. This conflict is known as the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and lasted for 44 days. The war erupted after Armenia launched heavy artillery attacks on Azerbaijan, with Azerbaijan immediately responding to these unlawful acts on the grounds of its right to self-defense. This conflict resulted in heavy casualties for both sides and ended with the Armistice Agreement signed on November 9, 2020.
The purpose of this article is to thoroughly address the historical development of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to examine the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War as well as the Armistice Agreement of November 9, 2020 from the perspective of international law. Thus, the first section discusses the conflict with an emphasis on the significant events throughout its history, examining the previous ceasefire processes in this context. In the early stages of the conflict after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, certain states in the region made various attempts to resolve the problem. However, these diplomatic initiatives were unsuccessful for certain reasons. Therefore, the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) began showing interest in the conflict. The OSCE Minsk Group was established in order to resolve the conflict and offered three proposals to the parties at the end of the 1990s. However, the parties were unable to reach an agreement regarding any of the proposals. As a result of this failure, the OSCE Minsk Group proposed the Madrid Principles in 2007, which involved returning the occupied territories to Azerbaijan and providing an interim status for the Nagorno-Karabakh region. However, neither of the parties were able to endorse the Madrid Principles.
The second section of the article discusses Armenia’s violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. During the war, Armenia deliberately fired heavy artillery and rockets at many densely populated Azerbaijani cities. While these attacks resulted in the death and injury of many civilians who were supposed to be protected under international humanitarian law, they also severely damaged hundreds of homes, historical buildings, and other civilian centers. As is known, all States shall abide fully to their obligations under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, additional protocols, and other instruments of international humanitarian law related to respect for human rights in armed conflicts. However, from the very beginning of the war, Armenia intentionally violated these rules. Therefore, Armenia’s international responsibilities and the relevant Armenian decision-makers’ criminal responsibilities due to these violations must be held to account.
The third chapter examines the provisions of the Armistice Agreement of November 9, 2020, which ended the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. It first analyzes in detail the legal aspects of this agreement, concluding it to be an international agreement as per the criteria stipulated in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) and binding to both its parties. This situation is important for the future of the Agreement. Moreover, this article examines the rights and obligations that the Agreement brings to all involved parties. This section also considers the start time and area to which the ceasefire regime is applied in accordance with the Agreement and additionally discusses the most recent status of the Lachin Corridor and the Zangezur Corridor. The article debates other provisions in the agreement such as prisoners of war exchange and return of refugees to the Nagorno-Karabakh region from the perspective of international law and evaluates the status of Agdam, Kelbacer, and Lachin.
The scope, duration, and other elements of the Russian peacekeeping mission in particular have been elucidated with certain references to the general concept of a peacekeeping force in international law. Last but not least, Turkey’s position in the conflict is also analyzed in accordance with the terms of the agreement. In fact, no provisions are present in the Agreement that directly concern Turkey. Upon examining the preparatory works (travaux preparations) of the Agreement, however, the parties are seen to want Turkey to be a part of the Joint Observation Center established in Article 5 of the Agreement.
The article’s conclusion underlines the lack of any provision in the Agreement determining the final status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Hence, the dispute is still an actual conflict that must be subjected to a resolution. Therefore, it is important to have the relevant actors, including Turkey, put effort into facilitating a final peace agreement regarding the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in order to prevent the reoccurrence of any other military conflict and establish a long-term peaceful settlement.