Baku, Azerbaijan, May 25
A document titled “Legal opinion on third party obligations with respect to illegal economic and other activities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”, presented by the permanent representative of Azerbaijan to the UN, was circulated at the General Assembly and the Security Council of the UN.
The document was prepared at the request of the government of Azerbaijan by the eminent international lawyer, Alain Pellet, who is also an emeritus professor at Universite Paris Ouest Nanterre La Defense and a former member (1990-2011) and chair (1997) of the International Law Commission.
“Against the background of the uninterrupted attempts of Armenia to cover up its unlawful actions and depart from its commitments and obligations by means of misinterpretation of the international legal norms and principles, as well as the UN Security Council resolutions, Azerbaijan has consistently promoted the critical importance of upholding international law and its faithful application with a view to achieving a long-awaited breakthrough in resolving the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict and ending the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and the suffering of the people affected by the Armenian aggression,” reads the document.
“Numerous documents on legal aspects of the conflict have been prepared by Azerbaijan.”
In particular, Azerbaijan submitted to the UN secretary general the reports on the legal consequences of the armed aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, on the fundamental norm of the territorial integrity of states and the right to self-determination in the light of Armenia’s revisionist claims, on the international legal responsibilities of Armenia as the belligerent occupier of Azerbaijani territory and on the international legal rights of the Azerbaijani internally displaced persons (IDPs), the document noted.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan submitted to the UN secretary general a comprehensive report of Ministry of Foreign Affairs on “Illegal economic and other activities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” which demonstrated, through facts, figures and statistical data, that Armenia’s policy and practices in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan were in breach of international law, undermined the prospects of achieving a political settlement of the conflict and posed an imminent threat to peace, security and stability in the region, said the document.
The “Legal opinion on third party obligations with respect to illegal economic and other activities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” provides an authoritative neutral view, which contributes to a better understanding of the existing legal commitments and requirements for addressing the resolution of the conflict and related issues and offers concrete measures that might be taken in that regard.
Armenia’s illegal economic and other activities are classified in the document, and legal opinions on Armenia’s wrongful acts, as well as legal responsibilities of third parties are provided below:
- Establishment of settlements/encouraging transfer of Armenian population into the occupied territories;
- Exploitation and trade of natural resources of Azerbaijan;
- Economic and financial activities;
- Change in infrastructure and exploitation of the telecommunication network;
- Alteration of the cultural character and heritage of the occupied territories;
- Promotion of the occupied territories as a tourist destination, organization of illegal visits and other activities.
According to the main findings in the document, Armenia is responsible for internationally wrongful acts, several of which constitute serious breaches of obligations arising from peremptory norms of general international law. These include, most notably:
- The use of force in order to impose the de facto secession of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and other districts of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia in violation of the Charter of the UN;
- The ensuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan;
- The ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including the establishment of settlements and the transfer of populations resulting in the change of the demographic composition of those territories;
- The gross violations of the law of belligerent occupation, in particular of article 43 of the Regulations respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907 and article 49 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949;
- The exploitation of the natural resources of the occupied territories without consideration for the primacy of the interests of the population (as it existed before the ethnic cleansing in the region);
- The alteration of the cultural heritage of the region.
The document makes it clear that the aforementioned serious breaches call for the application of the special consequences resulting from aggravated responsibility, namely:
- The non-recognition of the situation created by such breaches;
- The prohibition of aid or assistance in maintaining that situation;
- The exclusion of any immunities for the authors of these breaches;
- All states are required to invoke responsibility and take measures against it, including by means of sanctions, as well as criminal prosecutions and civil proceedings.
The rule of law shall be basis of international relations and conflict resolution processes, reads the document.
“We call on international community, relevant international organizations, OSCE Minsk Group co-chair states, foreign legal and natural persons to take into consideration the “Legal opinion on third party obligations with respect to illegal economic and other activities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” and other fundamental legal reports regarding legal aspects of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the document said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.