Karabakh and UN Security Council Resolutions
KARABAKH AND UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS
The resolutions of UN Security Council are among the decisive documents in the modern international life. All the UN member-countries, of course, focus their attention on the complete and well-timed (and not postponed or selective) fulfillment of those documents. There are 4 resolutions on Karabakh conflict (822, 853, 874 and 884). All of them were adopted in the heat of Karabakh war, from April 30 to November 12, 1993.
In the recent years, the fulfillment of resolutions has been more frequently demanded by Baku but only concerning the part of immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupation forces from 7 regions of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenian-Karabakh troops and return of their refugees to those territories. Now Nagorno Karabakh itself is also more and more persistently enclosed by those demands; Heydar Aliyev was more moderate in this issue (too much formal logic hardly ever applicable in conflict situations is necessary in order to refer Nagorno Karabakh to occupied lands).
To put it differently, Azerbaijan, in essence, reduces the requirements of resolutions to the liberation of occupied territories. This country wants to draw attention to this grave consequence of an armed conflict, to the pain of the forced migrants. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan wants to push to the background, to delay the elimination of the major disputable problem and cause of the conflict, determination of Nagorno Karabakh’s status.
1. Adequate treatment of the UN Security Council resolutions is impossible without considering the hierarchy of their demands, without taking into account the fact that in the summer and in the fall of 1993 did the culmination of the war arrive. That’s why the priority and the most important demand was to cease fire, all the military and hostile activities. This demand passes through all the 4 resolutions as if it is their common pivot.
UN Security Council brought forward this demand as early as in the very first resolution N 822 adopted on April 30 1993, but a whole year and another 3 resolutions were not enough for its fulfillment.
It’s high time we specified which side violated this basic demand of all resolutions and bears special responsibility for the fact that its failure to solve this cardinal problem laid the foundation for the failure of almost all other demands, a complex non-fulfillment of the Security Council resolutions.
Of course, nobody is innocent here, but, no doubt, the “palm” belongs to the Azeri side. Even having lost the control over its territories Azerbaijan’s leaders both in the years of A. Elchibey and H. Aliyev were persistent in their attempts to achieve a sudden change on the front and solve the conflict by force as if they were unaware of their own responsibility for the occupation and its extension. In the years of Russia’s active mediation, a whole calendar of cases of cease-fire breaking by both sides, evasion from such agreements and other cases of underestimation of peace-making initiatives accumulated (resolution N 884 also speaks about this in Aesopian language). With all the four resolutions of UN Security Council, three times did Baku directly neglect (December 1993 and February 1994) the chances of putting an end to military operations.
Cease-fire was achieved with Russia’s assistance on May 12 1994 not so much on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions, rather, on the basis of April 15 1994 statement of the Council of CIS country-heads, anyway, they had a common goal. This agreement was already different as compared with the previous ones, it wasn’t a temporary one or envisaged for several days only, but it was perpetual (by definition). i.e. actually permanent, and owing to the persistence of Moscow, it was not signed by two sides only as it was done before but by all the three sides of the conflict (not only Baku and Stepanakert, but also Yerevan).
3. The demand on liberation of the occupied territories or immediate withdrawal of all the occupation forces also passes through all resolutions. Baku claims that all the resolutions demand unconditional withdrawal, but this only refers to July 29 resolution N 853. How did the word “unconditional” disappear from resolutions N874 and N884? Did it disappear by accident, because of absent-mindedness? What if it disappeared in consequence of regular non-fulfillment by one of the sides of the major requirement, i.e., to cease military operations. Who could have expected to withdraw the forces without ceasing the fights? And who didn’t want to cease them? The UN Security Council couldn’t have compensated for non-fulfillment of its resolutions. On this very background did the unconditional demand turn into a subject of negotiations between the sides. For many times this issue has been a subject of negotiations but it wasn’t solved because of the position of Armenians and because of the fact that Baku immediately insisted on the withdrawal from all the territories, even from Shushi and Lachin, without even showing any willingness to touch upon the Nagorno Karabakh status.
4. The UN Security Council resolutions contain a number of other demands and appeals that remained non-fulfilled:
a) “to restore economic, transport and energy communications in the region” (853); “to eliminate all the obstacles to communication and transport” (874). From the very start of the conflict, Azerbaijan made use of the total blockade of Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia meanwhile accusing Armenia of Nakhijevan’s blockade. To fulfill those demands he puts forward the liberation of the lands as a preliminary pre-condition.
Besides, Baku broke off its contacts in all the spheres with Armenia and the more so with Nagorno Karabakh;
b) a number of appeals were raised in the negotiation process. Since as early as on May 19 1992, Azerbaijan refused to participate in the Minsk conference unless the Armenians left Shusha and Lachin occupied by them and on April 6 1993 they left the consultations of the “Minsk Five” in Geneva, the UN Security Council resolutions proposed that “negotiations should be immediately resumed within the framework of the Minsk Group peace process” (822), persistently urged to refrain from any actions hampering the peaceful settlement of the conflict and to “continue the negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group, as well as by means of direct contacts” (853), and to convene an urgent Minsk conference (874).
The negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group continued in 1994, as for direct contacts with Nagorno Karabakh, Baku completely contracted them at the end of 1993 against resolutions N853, N874 and N884.
The resolutions call “the local Armenian forces” (822), “Armenians of the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan” (853, 884) a side opposed to it. By saying direct contacts, the resolutions meant the ones between Baku and Stepanakert (also because the agreements on cease-fire reached with the assistance of Russia are mentioned there for many times and all these agreements were concluded with Stepanakert in 1993, but Yerevan was not a party).
One may sum up all this as follows:
AZERBAIJAN persistently wouldn’t fulfill the main demand of the UN Security Council resolutions, to cease the fire, military and hostile operations, which had a negative impact on the fulfillment of other demands. Azerbaijan doesn’t fulfill them at present, either as far as the following points are concerned: 1) restore the economic, transport and energy communications in the region, 2) use the direct contacts with Nagorno Karabakh, 3) convene a Minsk conference.
ARMENIA AND NAGORNO KARABAKH refuse to meet the demand of withdrawing the occupation forces from Azerbaijani regions beyond the boundaries of Nagorno Karabakh insisting on a package and all-embracing settlement.
ARMENIA didn’t completely meet the appeal to exert restraining influence on Nagorno Karabakh and at present by mistake substitutes for it in the negotiation process, which though differently but again distorts the real configuration of the conflict.
As a result, the truce that has lasted for more than 10 years now remains the main achievement. It’s impossible to consider the UN Security Council resolutions on Karabakh as fulfilled and the position of sides of the conflict as adequate to them. It’s significant that the UN Security Council didn’t adopt any other resolutions on this conflict as their non-fulfillment by the sides undermines its authority.
Of course, the resolutions adopted 11 years ago can hardly be considered free of mistakes and valid for all times. They were dictated by the realities of that time.
Now when for this or that purpose attempts to involve UN in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict are again made it’s important to sum up the activity of last 10 years. We shouldn’t shut our eyes to the past, we should learn our lesson from it.
We should demand from the leaders of all the sides, in all forms and from any tribune a rigid political will for settlement, serious efforts and energetic negotiations (instead of false gestures of maneuvering, information war and propaganda performances). So far, their efforts have proved to be obviously insufficient. They should coordinate the bases of a peaceful settlement, which would make it possible to adopt a new resolution of the UN Security Council in the future in order to support a historical reconciliation between Azeries and Armenians.
The international community should put a question before the sides, if they are able to recognize the Nagorno Karabakh status a disputable problem. It’s clear to the whole world but only not to the sides. No matter how hard it may seem, the authorities of all the sides still need to pass this test on practicability and capability of transition to a constructive search of settlement. If not, then what caused the conflict, why did we hold negotiations for so many years? If yes, then this would be the first step of deviation from the current ultimatum demands excluding any solution to the problem except the one in favor of them, the first step towards a more civilized solution to the dispute, elimination of vain but dangerous appeals to its forced solution as well as the grave consequences of the armed conflict.
Similar article in Russian: Карабах и резолюции Совета Безопасности ООН