Military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh Raises International Concern
Sofía Medina Sánchez
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On the 19th of September, the President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), the Congress President and the Secretary General issued statements on their concern for the military escalation around the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute is an ethnic and territorial conflict that has arisen between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It centers on the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, as well as seven adjacent districts that were primarily inhabited by Azerbaijanis until their displacement during the 1990s.
Tiny Kox, the PACE President, called on Azerbaijan to cease fire immediately. He made the following statement: “I am deeply shocked by the decision of the government of Azerbaijan to launch a new and aggressive military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh earlier today. In the space of hours this has resulted in casualties and deaths among civilians. I strongly condemn these actions and call on the authorities of Azerbaijan to cease their fire immediately.
For months we have been witnessing and calling for an end to the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the region due to the blockade of the Lachin corridor. It is inconceivable that just at the moment when the situation concerning the transport of the humanitarian supply to Nagorno-Karabakh seemed to improve and a glimpse of hope was emerging, Azerbaijan took the decision to launch this show of force. This surely represents a major blow to the prospects of achieving sustainable peace and stability in the South Caucasus.
It is clear that the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh can only be resolved peacefully, through dialogue and unambiguous signals of goodwill, and on the basis on the applicable international law, paying full respect to the human rights of everyone living there."
Secretary General, Marija Pejčinović Burić declared that “Only a meaningful, unconditional dialogue, involving all sides, can lead to a long-lasting peace, which has no alternative. The Council of Europe remains ready to engage and assist in this process, with a view to ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights by all, including rights of national minorities.”
Lastly, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, has raised concerns regarding the serious humanitarian consequences for the region. He highlighted the possible influx of refugees into Armenian local communities, especially those on the border with Azerbaijan. The Congress President also called for restraint by both sides.
It is desirable that the conflicting parties undertake initiatives aimed at achieving a peaceful resolution.
Sources and further Reading:
Council of Europe, Newsroom, Congress President expresses grave concern over the Nagorno-Karabakh situation, 19 September 2023 : https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/congress-president-expresses-grave-concern-over-the-nagorno-karabakh-situation
Council of Europe, Newsroom, Military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh: PACE President calls on Azerbaijan to cease fire immediately, 19 September 2023 : https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/military-operation-in-nagorno-karabakh-pace-president-calls-on-azerbaijan-to-cease-fire-immediately
Council of Europe, Newsroom, Military escalation around the Karabakh region, 19 September 2023 : https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/military-escalation-around-the-karabakh-region