The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not new. It dates back to 639 AD when Abd-Ar-Rehman-Ibn-Rabiah first attacked this region but got a humiliating defeat. During 700-year-old Ottoman rule in neighbouring Turkey, there were repeated attacks on these highlanders, but they could not change the socio-religious status of the people. They remained loyal Christians and repulsed every attack. Also Read - Pakistan Re-elected to UN Human Rights Council; China Sees Sharp Drop in Standing
When this region came under the Russian rule after the Russo-Persian War, Soviets accepted their will and kept it as Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO)- an autonomous region. This was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), but for the ease of administration, control was kept with Azerbaijan. Also Read - 'Unnecessary Comments Best Avoided': MEA Hits Out After UN Official's Remarks on Hathras Case
Soon after the breakdown of USSR, Azerbaijan showed its territorial hunger and tried to occupy the area forcefully. Since the newly formed Russia was busy with their own economic affairs, nobody had the time or energy to counter this Azeri move. Also Read - India Attaches Highest Priority to Ensuring Gender Parity in All Spheres of Life: Smriti Irani at UNGA
In 1988, there was a referendum in the area and people decided to join Armenia instead of Azerbaijan. Such a move should have been accepted by Azerbaijan, but Azerbaijan attacked and the conflict turned into a full-scale war. Armenia being close to the Artsakh people, moved in and actively provided all kinds of support.
In 1991, Azerbaijan passed a resolution in its own national assembly and abolished the autonomous status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Such a unilateral move should have been criticised by the global powers but since Azerbaijan was a flourishing arms market, no one bothered to do so. Dollars were flowing & world powers including Russia were busy selling their war machines to Azerbaijan.
Let’s discuss one of the worst mistakes in history.
The United Nations is considered as a hope for the country’s people in distress. But when the UN itself makes mistakes to support a one-sided narrative, it is not just a wrong decision but the one costing several thousand lives.
Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe (OSCE-Minsk group) also tried to resolve the matter and started working for it, but were aggressively opposed not only by Azerbaijan as well as Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries.
The end result was ‘zero’.
At this critical time as Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the UN, Mr Agshin Mehdiyev moved a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in 2008. This resolution passed under questionable circumstances and became UN resolution Number 62/243. Facts pertaining to this resolution were surprisingly disturbing.
- Out of 193 members of the UN, only 46 countries voted. The remaining 147 members were either absent/not voted.
- Out of these 46 votes, 39 were in the favour of Azerbaijan while 7 were against it.
- Out of 39 who supported Azerbaijan, 31 were OIC Countries.
- Out of rest eight, five of the voting countries were Cambodia, Columbia, Myanmar, Serbia & Tuvalu. They were influenced by OIC countries.
- Three countries (Georgia, Moldova & Ukraine) had disputes with Armenia & hence showed such a reaction.
- The seven countries standing proud by Nagorno-Karabakh & opposed the Azeri Resolution were Armenia, United States, France, India, Russia, Vanuatu & Angola.
The Question of the day is “How did the UN accept the resolution when there was such a huge absence in voting?” This has no answer.
It’s high time to revisit our own decisions and rectify past mistakes. Currently, the global community is looking at the United Nations with extreme hope. In my opinion, the following should be the permanent and acceptable solution to this problem:
- First and foremost, the UN should dispatch its peacekeeping force (Comprising troops from neutral countries) to the war zone and enforce an immediate cease-fire.
- Ensure withdrawal of forces of both the countries from the war zone.
- Propose another resolution in the United Nations General Assembly & this time it must be ensured that more than 80% member states are available for voting.
- At the same time, voting countries should consider the will of the people of Artsakh.
- They must remember that this is just not a territorial conflict, it’s a conflict of Islamic Radicalism vs an old thriving civilisation. Hence, member states should take adequate caution while voting. What you support today (Islamic Radicalism) can come knocking at your door tomorrow.
- Once the voting is done, the resolution should be enforced under UN guidelines. Key member states like the US, Russia, France, the UK etc should play a key role in this.
I am confident that if global leaders play a right and legitimate role in resolving this problem, then not only we can save a dying culture but also the oldest inhabited region of the world.
The people of Artsakh need immediate attention before it becomes too late.
(Amit Bansal is a Defence Strategist with keen interests in International Relations and Internal Security. He is also an author, blogger and poet.)
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India.com. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.