The Artsakh Issue in its Historical-Legal Development




external self-determination, territorial integrity, remedial secession, ethnic cleansing, racial hatred


Artsakh or Karabakh is an integral part of historic Armenia. Felling under the rule of various conquerors throughout the history, Artsakh remained Armenian, sometimes possessing also a semi-independent status. The legal history of the Artsakh dispute can be traced back to the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan, when Persia ceded sovereignty of Artsakh to the Russian Empire. After the collapse of the Russian Empire, during 1918-1920 Artsakh was disputed by the Republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan, because of the administrative policy of the former Russian Empire to unite the national territories into mixed administrative units.
After being incorporated into the Soviet Union, again because of the same administrative police, the Armenian populated Artsakh was incorporated into Soviet Azerbaijan as an autonomous district (marz). Utilizing Article 3 of the "Law on Procedure for Resolving Questions Connected with a Union Republic’s Secession from the USSR,” which provides right to the people of autonomous republics and autonomous formations to independently decide their future state-legal status, on September 2, 1991, a joint session of the People's Deputies of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region and Shahumian regional councils, declared the establishment of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR). This move was followed by a referendum, where 99,9 percent voted for independence of NKR.
After this vote until now, Azerbaijan tries to seize Artsakh by force, which is contrary to international public and humanitarian law.
This article aims to study the status of Artsakh in the context of the above historical-legal developments. It clearly demonstrates that the right of people of Artsakh to independence is undisputable.

Author Biography

Edita G. Gzoyan, Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Foundation

Deputy Scientific Director at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Foundation since 2018. She received her Ph.D. in History at Yerevan State University and an L.L.M. at American University of Armenia.
She authored more than four dozen articles and three books. Dr. Gzoyan is Armenia country editor for Central and Eastern European Review and associate editor of Ts’eghaspanagitakan handes and International Journal of Armenian Genocide Studies.




How to Cite

Gzoyan, E. G. (2022). The Artsakh Issue in its Historical-Legal Development. International Journal of Armenian Genocide Studies, 7(2).