Illegal: The Recourse to Force to Recover Occupied Territory and the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War,

Tom Ruys, professor of International Law, Ghent Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute (GRILI) and Felipe Rodríguez Silvestre doctoral researcher, Ghent Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute (GRILI),

[…] Indeed, prior to the 2020 conflict, the Nagorno-Karabakh region was widely regarded as belonging de jure to Azerbaijan, but as being unlawfully occupied – for more than 25 years – by Armenia.2 The self-proclaimed ‘Republic of Artsakh’ was seen as nothing but a puppet regime under the control of Armenia.3 Against this background, the following question arises: When part of one state’s territory is occupied by another state for a prolonged duration, can the former state have lawful recourse to military force to recover its land? Clearly, the relevance of this question extends far beyond the Caucasus (one need only consider the cases of the Golan Heights or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). Accordingly, rather than seeking to identify who was the ‘aggressor’ in the 2020 confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan – both protagonists accused each other of having triggered the hostilities – this essay tackles the above question in a more general fashion. Upon weighing the arguments, we believe a negative answer is in order. Läs artikel