RULAC: Armenia is occupying the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan

Mon 09 October 2017 05:14 GMT | 09:14 Local Time

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The self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s claim to independence has not been internationally recognized.

The OSCE , the United Nations General Assembly,  and the Security Council have all reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, says an article posted about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, posted on RULAC's website.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, the article goes. The declaration of independence triggered a conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, which was supported by Armenia. The conflict resulted in an estimated 30,000 deaths and the displacement of approximately 1,000,000 persons. A ceasefire agreement was signed in 1994, following which Armenian forces remained in control over Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts.  The Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) monitors the ceasefire. Violations of the ceasefire with armed clashes between Armenian, Azerbaijani and separatist forces remain common.  Particularly severe clashes leading to dozens of deaths took place in April 2016. 
The self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s claim to independence has not been internationally recognized.  The OSCE , the United Nations General Assembly,  and the Security Council have all reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. 

According to the article, however, Armenia’s position is that ‘Nagorno-Karabakh has no future as a part of Azerbaijan and whatever is the solution, it must emanate from the will of the Karabakh people’. Any ‘Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement must be based on recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh people’s right to self-determination.’ 

Elements of occupation

In line with the article, for a territory to be considered occupied it must be 'under the authority of the hostile army.'  For an occupation to exist hostile foreign forces must exercise effective control. Three elements must be fulfilled for effective control to exist.

"First, the armed forces of a foreign state are physically present in the territory and the territorial state did not consent to their presence.

"Second, the presence of the foreign forces prevents the effective local government in place at the time of invasion from exercising its powers.

"Third, the foreign forces establish their own authority," the article reads.

According to the article, states may use proxy forces to occupy a territory: if a state exercises overall control over de facto local authorities or other local groups that exert effective control over the territory, the state can be considered an occupying force.  Two elements must therefore exist in such a situation.

The foreign state has overall control over de facto local authorities.
The de facto authorities exercise effective control of a territory. 

Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts are under the effective control of the self-proclaimed "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR)". However, Armenia exercises overall control over the NKR, the article reads.

"According to the European Court of Human Rights, significant indicators of overall control are: the presence of large number of troops engaged in active duties in the occupied area, and the fact that the local authority is dependent for its survival on military and other support from the occupying state.  Demonstrative of Armenia’s overall control is the link between the Armenian armed forces and the armed forces of the NKR. For instance, Serzh Sargysan served as the Chairman of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Self-Defense Forces Committee during the initial conflict with Azerbaijan. He later served as the Armenian Minister of Defense, the Prime Minister of Armenia, and is now President of Armenia. The current Chief of Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces, Movses Hakobyan, previously served as Minister of Defence in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Reinforcing this link is the 1994 agreement signed between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic which established that conscripts from Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh may do their military service in each other’s militaries. 
Reportedly, the Nagorno-Karabkh forces rely significantly on Armenian nationals and the two militaries are highly integrated.  Significantly, the European Court of Human Rights accepted that it was clear from multiple reports and statements that Armenian military support 'has been - and continues to be - decisive for the conquest of and continued control over the territories in issue, and the evidence, not least the 1994 military co-operation agreement, convincingly shows that the armed forces of Armenia and the “NKR” are highly integrated’."

"The subjective views of the parties may be an indicator, but are not determinative for the classification of a situation. Azerbaijan considers the region occupied by Armenia, including due to the control exercised by Armenia over the local authorities.  While accepting that there is cooperation between the armed forces, Armenia denies its involvement and considers that the 'NKR' is ‘a sovereign, independent state possessing all the characteristics of an independent state under international law.’ 

"The United Nations General Assembly considers that the Nagorno-Karabakh region is occupied by Armenia and has requested the withdrawal of all Armenian forces.  Similarly, the Security Council repeatedly requested the withdrawal of all occupying forces in 1993," the article says.

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