Who owns Nagorno-Karabakh?
Location and extent of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (lighter color)
Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Contested Legacy of War Crimes
The question of whether Azerbaijan has committed war crimes against Armenia in recent years is rooted in a long-standing, bitter territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This enclave, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has an ethnic Armenian majority and declared itself independent in the 1990s. However, it has not been recognized by any UN member state, including Armenia. Clashes between the two nations have ensued sporadically since then, with significant flare-ups in 2016 and 2020.
June 2001 NASA photograph of the snow-covered Lesser Caucasus in the south of the Greater Caucasus. Around the year 1800, the Karabakh Khanate was based in the southeast corner of the Lesser Caucasus. It extended east into the lowlands, hence the name Nagorno- or “Highland-” Karabagh for the western part.
NASA/MODIS – Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team – http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=1939
Satellite image of the Caucasus, from NASA’s Visible Earth
The 2020 conflict, which lasted six weeks, was especially intense. Both sides accused each other of targeting civilian areas and committing war crimes. These allegations have been fueled by videos and photographs circulating on social media, purportedly showing ill-treatment of prisoners of war and desecration of the dead, among other possible violations of the laws of war.
Globally recognized academic Dr. Joseph Simonian told us:
Just that in this case the principle of “salvation through secession” is justified and that the self-determination of the Artsakh Armenians is the only remedy to preventing genocide.
Specifically, concerning Azerbaijan, several reports emerged alleging attacks on Armenian civilians and civilian infrastructure, extrajudicial killings, and maltreatment of Armenian prisoners. Similarly, Armenia faced accusations from the Azerbaijani side. Independent verification of many of these claims has been challenging due to the ongoing hostilities and limited access to the conflict zone.
Ethnic groups of the region in 1995, after the deportations of Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, primarily facilitates international police cooperation. While it can issue Red Notices to inform member countries about a person wanted for prosecution. It does not have the authority to arrest individuals or intervene directly in the domestic judicial procedures of member countries. Thus, when it comes to allegations of war crimes, bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) or special tribunals are more relevant.
The final borders of the conflict after the Bishkek Protocol. Armenian forces of Nagorno-Karabakh controlled almost 9% of Azerbaijan’s territory outside the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, while Azerbaijani forces control Shahumian and the eastern parts of Martakert and Martuni.
However, neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan are parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, limiting the court’s jurisdiction over potential war crimes in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Addressing alleged war crimes in this context is multifaceted:
- Independent Investigations! Impartial international bodies can conduct investigations into allegations of war crimes. These bodies can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare detailed reports to shed light on the veracity of claims.
- Diplomatic Pressure! The international community, through organizations like the United Nations, can exert diplomatic pressure on countries to adhere to international law and human rights norms.
- International Tribunals! While the ICC may not have jurisdiction due to non-membership of the concerned parties, the United Nations Security Council could, theoretically, establish an ad-hoc tribunal to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes, similar to past tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast in the Soviet era.
- Domestic Prosecutions! National courts in Armenia and Azerbaijan can take up cases against their citizens for violations of international law. Provided their legal systems allow for it.
- In addition, Reconciliation Efforts! Post-conflict reconciliation efforts, similar to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Moreover, can be instrumental in addressing grievances and providing a platform for healing and understanding.
In conclusion, as the global community observes the situation, it becomes crucial to prioritize justice and accountability. And, lastly, the protection of civilian populations!
Unknown author – http://www.baku.ru/cmm-glr-list.php?cmm_id=564&id=136185
Шушинский ханский дворец дочери бывшего владетельного хана. Сейчас стоит в руинах, разрушен во время войны.