Dədə Qorqud Milli Fondu - Azərbaycan Dünyası jurnalı

Right of peoples to self-determination

33041 Baxış sayı / 20-03-2017 14:18

Prof. dr. Namig Aliyev

Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan


Several comments on right of peoples to self-determination that is so ruthlessly exploited by the Armenian politicians. It is worth mentioning that we, based on the provisions of international law, are ultimately excluding the possibility of application of principle of “self-determination of peoples” to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem from the start, in light of the number of well-known arguments. First of all, Nagorno-Karabakh – is a territorial region of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan Republic as a sovereign state is a result of expression of will and self-determination of the Azerbaijani people as a whole (including ethnic Armenians) that live on the entire territory of Azerbaijan Republic, not in one of its parts. Part of the people cannot make a decision that affects destiny of the people as a whole. According to the Resolution 47/135 of United Nations General Assembly adopted on 18 December 1992 “Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” principle of self-determination of peoples is not the right of national minorities and international community did not deem it possible and necessary to reflect such principle in the aforementioned instrument. Secondly, European states, USA and Canada when ratifying the Helsinki Final Act tied together principle of equality and self-determination of peoples, that is provided in the in the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations of 24 October 1970, with the principle of territorial integrity of the states. In this document effective application of principle of equality and self-determination of peoples “is of paramount importance for the promotion of friendly relations among States, based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality”.

Principle of self-determination can be applied only in the context of principle of territorial integrity of the states. Declaration provides that: “any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of a State or country or at its political independence is incompatible with die purposes and principles of the Charter” (See: http://www.terralegis.org/terra/act/b252html). That is why in the Final Act this principle was settled in the eighth place (from ten) and called “equal rights and self-determination of peoples” (See:http://www.terralegis.org/terra/act/b252html). Thirdly, Nagorno-Karabakh – is the region of Azerbaijan where, before the ethnic cleansings that were carried out by Armenians, two communities have resided: Armenian and Azerbaijani. These to communities are the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh, but in no way can they be the “the people”. “The people” – is a political category and the people in such context are “Armenians” and “Azerbaijanis” that have already exercised their right to self-determination within the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan Republic respectively. Thus the term “the people” cannot relate to the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan Republic in any possible way. Fourthly, even if we imagine the impossible – that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh that consists from Armenians and Azerbaijanis is in fact can be considered as “the people” that have a right to self-determination – that would not mean that Nagorno-Karabakh has to be separated from Azerbaijan.

According to the fifth chapter of the Declaration on principles of international law of 1970 implementation of right to self-determination is not equal to encouraging the dismemberment or impairment of states. Declaration clearly and directly states that principle of self-determination can and shall be implemented within the limitations of principles of inviolability of borders and territorial integrity of the states and such principle shall not be “construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States… Every State shall refrain from any action aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of any other State or country” (See: http://www.whatconvention.org/en/conv/0703.htm). And, finally, fifthly, neither theory nor practice of international or constitutional law knows any cases of multiple implementation or realization of right to self-determination of the peoples. Even if we only imagine the impossible – that practice will see such precedent – the world will inevitably face the self-determination of the Armenian peoples in Russia, USA, France, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Iran, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Spain, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Syria and in many other states. 

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