It has been internationally recognized that Azerbaijani territories are under occupation and that Armenia has been actively involved in the creation and maintenance of that situation. The existence of and exclusive Armenian presence in the occupied territories is expressly recognized by the political organs of the United Nations, by the EU, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, together with recognition by individual states. Accordingly, Armenia is an occupying power within the meaning of the relevant international legal provisions.
The critical period for the determination of the status of Armenia as an occupying power of Azerbaijani territory is the end of 1991 for this was the period during which the USSR disintegrated and the new successor states came into being, thus transforming an internal conflict between the two Union Republics into an international conflict.
Taking advantage of the favorable results of military actions, Armenia is trying to consolidate the current status quo and impose finally a fait accompli situation through measures aimed at preventing the expelled Azerbaijani population from returning to their places of origin. Such measures include inter alia continuing illegal settlement practices and economic activities in the occupied territories accompanied by serious and systematic interference with property rights.
Sources, including Armenian ones, report on tens of thousand settlers who have moved into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including districts adjacent to the Nagorny Karabakh region, such as Lachyn, Kalbajar, Zangilan and Jabrayil. Facts testify that this is being done in an organized manner with the purpose of annexation of these territories. In 2000, “the resettlement program” has been adopted which envisages the increase of the number of the population in the Nagorny Karabakh region to 300,000 by the year 2010.
Armenia continues to take purposeful measures to build up its military presence in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The arms control mechanism is not effective in the territories of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia. Accumulation of a great number of armaments and ammunitions in these territories, which are beyond the international control, poses serious threats to regional peace and security.
Highly alarmed by the far-reaching implications of this activity, Azerbaijan has requested to address the situation in its occupied territories within the UN General Assembly. This initiative proceeded from the strong believe that the only way for reaching a just, complete and comprehensive settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is an approach based on the full and unequivocal respect for the letter and spirit of international law.
On 29 October 2004, the UN General Assembly decided to include the item entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” to the agenda of its 59th session. On 11 November 2004, a report on the transfer of population into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan was submitted to the UN General Assembly. The UN General Assembly’s consideration of this agenda item played a crucial role in attracting attention to the issue of the illegal transfer of settlers into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, as well as in initiating urgent measures for putting an end this dangerous practice.
A visit to the occupied territories of the OSCE Fact-Finding Mission from 30 January–5 February 2005 became a logical result of Azerbaijan’s initiative to raise the issue on the situation in its occupied territories before the UN General Assembly. The main outcome of the mission’s activity was the report based on comprehensive facts, both provided by the Azerbaijan and obtained during study of the situation on the ground. The mission clearly confirmed settlement in the occupied territories, thus underlining the concerns of Azerbaijan. In their turn, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen, proceeding from the conclusions contained in the Mission’s report, have emphasized the inadmissibility of changes in the demographic composition of the region and urged appropriate international agencies to conduct needs assessment for resettlement of the population located in the occupied territories and return of the internally displaced persons to their places of permanent residence. The report and recommendations of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen that were based on it, laid down a solid basis for further consideration and resolution of the problem.
The issue of the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan has been also included into the agenda of the subsequent sessions of the UN General Assembly.
On 7 September 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/60/285 entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” as proposed by Azerbaijan in regard to the incidents of massive fires taken place in the occupied territories. The resolution stresses the necessity of the urgent conduct of the environmental operation, calls for assessment of the short-term and long-term impact of the fires on the environment of the region and its rehabilitation. For these purposes, the resolution emphasizes the readiness of the parties to cooperate and calls upon the organizations and programs of the United Nations system, in particular the United Nations Environment Program to cooperate with the OSCE.
The OSCE Fact-Finding Mission carried out from 4 to 12 October 2006 assessed the short-term and long-term impact of the fires on the environment in the affected territories and confirmed inter alia that “the fires resulted in environmental and economic damages and threatened human health and security”.
On 14 March 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted at its 62nd session resolution A/RES/62/243 on the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Seriously concerned that the armed conflict in and around the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan continued to endanger international peace and security, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed its continued strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the population expelled from the occupied territories to return to their homes. It has been also recognized the necessity of providing normal, secure, and equal conditions of life for Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which would allow to build up an effective democratic system of self-governance in this region within the Republic of Azerbaijan. The General Assembly also reaffirmed that no state shall recognize as lawful the situation resulting from the occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, nor render aid or assistance in maintaining this situation.