Azerbaijan: Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh

Now the longest-running conflict in the former Soviet Union, the battle for Nagorno-Karabakh has rapidly expanded and intensified since it began in 1988, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 25,000 soldiers and civilians and the displacement of one million others. What began with demonstrations calling for the unification of the Republic of Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, a largely Armenian region of Azerbaijan, became a full-scale war in 1992. In 1993, the war spilled into other parts of Azerbaijan as Karabakh Armenian forces, often with the support of the Republic of Armenia, conducted massive offensive military operations into the Azeri-populated provinces surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. A frail cease-fire was achieved in May 1994, but large, well-equipped armies still face each other over a deserted, ruined landscape in the Azeri lowlands around Karabakh. In December 1994, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe decided to dispatch a multinational peacekeeping force, the specifics of which have yet to be arranged.  During the conflict, the armies of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, have all committed egregious violations of the rules of war. Such offenses include forced displacement, looting and burning of homes, hostage taking and holding, mistreatment and summary executions of prisoners of war, and indiscriminate use of air power against civilian targets. Focusing on 1993-1994, the report concludes that Karabakh Armenian forces with the support of the Republic of Armenia were responsible for the majority of abuses during that period.