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Does Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) Fall Within the UN Remit for the Right to Self-Determination?

Gandzasar Monastery1.jpgDoes Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) Fall Within the UN Remit for the Right to Self-Determination?

This is the third in the series of three written by Dr Andrew Ashdown, Manager of Good Governance and Advocacy Development at HART.

The monastery at Gandzasar pictured here was commissioned by the House of Khachen and completed in 1238. Public Domain, Link

Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) may not under international law have yet become a, ‘sovereign and independent state’. However, it is a functioning autonomous democratic State system with instruments of State and a viable economy.

The Montevideo convention states customary international law about the requirements statehood. A state needs:

1) a permanent population,

2) defined territory,

3) a government,

4) the capacity to enter relationships with other states.

Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) has a permanent population, a defined territory, and a democratically elected government. It has 8 diplomatic missions in other countries and its government has numerous contracts with other states and state corporations.

Moreover, the people of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) (94% Armenian) have freely integrated as an autonomous zone looking to Armenia for historical, cultural and political reasons of their own volition as their natural neighbours. They are both geographically and racially distinct from the Muslim Azerbaijan State under which they officially stand according to international law (by an accident of history) at present.

Yet since 1988, Azerbaijan has violently sought to re-establish its authority and control against the wishes of much of the population of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh).

Resolutions by the General Assembly and Security Council cannot supersede or overthrow the Charter of the UN, its declarations, or the principles underlying them. General Assembly and Security Council resolutions are formed merely to address time-relevant political priorities. The Charter and Declarations stand above resolutions until they are changed. Resolutions cannot supersede the Charter of the UN.

In addition to the UN Charter of Nations, Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) scores highly on all the Indicators of social development established by the World Bank that measure how ‘developed’ a country is. These include statistics compiled in the following fields of civil life: Education, Health, Work, Gender equality, Peacefulness, Democracy, Corruption, Consumption, Pollution, Leisure/ Media, Civil Rights, Crime/ social unrest. In all these indicators, Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) scores significantly higher than Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Under the UN criteria for the right to self-determination, it can thus be argued that under International Law, Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) amply fulfils that right, and that the dangers of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) coming once again under the control of Azerbaijan for its population are extreme.

By Dr Andrew Ashdown, Manager of Good Governance and Advocacy Development at HART

Other posts in this series -

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