Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: UN chief condemns attacks on populated areas

UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 43rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council on 24 February 2020 UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 43rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council on 24 February 2020 © UN Photo / Violaine Martin

18 October 2020

In a statement released by his Spokesperson, the UN Secretary-General has condemned “totally unacceptable” strikes on populated areas

Deploring the latest attack reported on October 16 against Ganja, Azerbaijan's second largest city, United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres has issued a statement on the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, resolutely condemning "all attacks on populated areas" in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. The UN chief reiterated that both nations have the obligation, under humanitarian law, to “protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations”.

Fighting broke out on 27 September along the border of the auto-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, a breakaway state with a majority Armenian population but geographically located within Azerbaijani territory and internationally recognised as a region of Azerbaijan. The fighting reawakened an old conflict dating back to 1988 between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, causing hundreds of civilian casualties. The two nations had been involved in flimsy peace talks for 30 years, during which several violations of the Bishkek agreement signed in 1994 were witnessed by both parties. The recent reported interventions of Russia and mediators of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concluded with the agreement of a short-lived ceasefire, broken just hours after it was settled.

The recent outbreaks of violence are costing lives and causing a dangerous escalation of tensions. The rising hostilities and grief could hinder the peace process, which could be complicated even further with the involvement of external parties, such as Turkey. A robust international security arrangement is needed to unlock this dramatically worsening security dilemma. Yet the only peace framework in place is the set of ceasefire agreements signed in 1994, which were supposed to be temporary and failed to keep the peace.

The UN Secretary-General strongly encouraged both parties to resume peace negotiations without delay.


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Author: Giulia Ferrara

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