By Dr. Vahagn Vardanyan

Out of 193 United Nations member-states, only a few are members of one or another military-political alliance (for example, NATO or the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO]). In the 1960s, many countries which decided not to join any such alliance formed the Non-Aligned Movement (then mainly directed against NATO and the Warsaw Pact). After the USSR and the Warsaw Pact Organization ceased, the Movement continued to exist and today, 120 countries are members. Seven more (including Armenia) have observer status. The Movement’s governance principles are defined by the Cartagena Methodological Document adopted in 1996. To join the Movement, a country must accept and adhere to the requirements in Paragraph 3 of the above document, known as the “Ten Bandung Principles.”

The highest governing body of the Non-Aligned Movement is the Summit of heads of states or governments of member states. At the Summit, one of the leaders of the member-states is elected as the president of the Movement before the next Summit is held. Azerbaijan is a member of the movement, and currently, its leader, Ilham Aliyev, is its president from 2019 until 2023 (extended in 2022 because of the global situation with COVID-19). Now let’s look at the ten foundational principles of the Movement and the cases of violation of each of these principles by Aliyev’s Azerbaijan.

Principle I: Respect for fundamental human rights and the purposes and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations

Violation of the principle: There are many facts about the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war and captured civilians. Such are, for example, the shooting of two captured Armenian residents in the town of Hadrut in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) during the 44-day War of 2020 and the fact that it remained without consequences. The opening of a war park in Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku, which demonstrates the humiliation of the Armenian side, is among many other facts raised by the Republic of Armenia’s Human Rights Defender’s Office.

Principle II: Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations

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Violation of the principle: Threats and claims to the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia (Syunik, Lake Sevan, the capital city of Yerevan) by Aliyev himself and representatives of Azerbaijan’s other state bodies.

Principle III: Recognition of the equality of all races and the equality of all nations, large and small

Violation of the principle: The right to self-determination of the people of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) was implemented through the referendum held on December 10, 1991. However, at that time, Azerbaijan did not fulfill its obligation, that is, to observe the results of the referendum under the acting law of that time. The Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) undertook all the actions to achieve independence from the Soviet Union (not just Azerbaijan), as the current legislation prescribed. Even though Artsakh’s independence has not yet been recognized by any member state of the United Nations (except for the resolutions of the two houses of the French Parliament), since the implementation of self-determination, not only has Azerbaijan not discussed steps to recognize the independence of Artsakh, but, on the contrary, Azerbaijan has consistently aborted the status of Artsakh, that is, the recognition of the Artsakh independence movement.

Principle IV: Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country

Violation of the principle: For years, Azerbaijan has consistently restricted the entry of citizens of the Republic of Armenia, as well as Armenians who are citizens of other states, into Azerbaijan. With such a step, that country violates its commitment to maintaining the equality of nations and countries.

Principle V: Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations

Violation of the principle: The invasion of Azerbaijan into the internationally recognized borders of the Republic of Armenia (in particular, on May 12, 2021, September 13-14, 2022) and its carrying out operations on the territory of Armenia, including military-technical works, is an interference in the normal life of the territorial units of Armenia and the entire country. Such operations, in addition to security threats, also entail socio-economic constraints for the local population.

Principle VI: Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers, abstention by any country from exerting pressures on other countries

Violation of the principle: The struggle by the Republic of Armenia against the existence of the army, the most critical structure that ensures its security, up to the point of abolishing the armed forces or imposing restrictions on them, is nothing but an encroachment on Armenia’s right to defend itself as a member state of the United Nations.

Principle VII: Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country

Violation of the principle: Many threats have been made against Armenia by Aliyev himself and his administration. They related to the political independence of Armenia: for example, the claim that Armenians cannot have an independent state and must be part of another big state. Threats were also made against such a structure of strategic significance in the territory of Armenia, such as the Metsamor nuclear power plant. Such statements represent a passive nuclear attack, that is, a threat to use a means of mass extermination.

Principle VIII: Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration, or judicial settlement, as well as other peaceful means of the parties’ own choice, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations

Violation of the principle: From 1992 to September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan, together with the parties and mediators involved in the Artsakh issue (in particular, Armenia, as the guarantor of Artsakh’s security, co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group authorized by the United Nations, Russia, the USA, and France), has consistently confirmed the intolerance toward a military solution to the conflict. In other words, everyone has always accepted that a peaceful settlement is the only acceptable solution to the problem. The consistent emphasis of this principle (approach), which followed every negotiation discussion, made the party initiating military actions legally responsible for violating the format of the problem-solving process. By unleashing a war against Artsakh on September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan became accountable for violating the path of a peaceful settlement. Since the achieved independence of the Republic of Artsakh (December 1991), the relations between the Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Azerbaijan should be considered international. In addition, as already mentioned, Azerbaijan has not only violated its obligation to peacefully resolve disputes relating to the Artsakh issue. Still, it has also undertaken a military invasion of the territory of Armenia.

Principle IX: Promotion of mutual interests and cooperation

Violation of the principle: Azerbaijan has been consistently implementing the economic blockade of Armenia for three decades. As a result of the latter, the infrastructures of Armenia have been isolated from a significant part of the regional system. Such targeting of another country is evidence of a deliberate failure to cooperate.

Principle X: Respect for justice and international obligation

Violation of the principle: According to Ilham Aliyev’s decree, Azerbaijan has violated the assumed international obligations and encroached on justice. One vivid example was Aliyev’s pardoning of Azerbaijani citizen Ramil Safarov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Hungary for assassinating an Armenian citizen (Gurgen Margaryan) during a NATO partnership training visit. Hungary later extradited Safarov to Azerbaijan (on August 31, 2012), and, despite Azerbaijan’s obligation to keep him imprisoned, freeing R. Safarov violated the assumed obligations.

The above-mentioned cases of violations of the Non-Aligned Movement’s foundation principles by its member-state (and current chair) of Azerbaijan allow Armenia to apply to members of the Movement by raising the facts of these violations. Having Azerbaijan’s leader Aliyev removed from the position of the head of the Movement is an essential step toward curbing his anti-Armenian politics.


(An Armenian-language version of this article was published by the author, a resident of Hong Kong, in Aravod newspaper of Yerevan in 2021.)

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