The “Principle Catalogue of the CSCE Final Act from Helsinki on August 1, 1975, which confirmed “equal rights and self-determination of peoples” as its eighth principle, showed unmistakably that the relevance of peoples’ right to self-determination was not and should not be restricted only to the colonial territories of the Third World, but extend also to Europe. The Charter of the United Nations declared that any military action or pressure against peoples who want to exercise their right of self-determination must be stopped, meanwhile the principle of territorial integrity must be considered.8

The Armenians of Karabakh, constituting the demographic majority, bolster their claim based on democratic principles, Leninist notions of self-determination and article 70 of the Soviet Constitution. Azerbaijanis countered with defences of territorial integrity based on Article 78 of the Soviet Constitution. Thus, the right of self-determination of the Armenians of Nagorny Karabakh collides with the right of sovereinty of the Republic of Azerbaijan. How can a solution, in accordance with international law, be found to the problem?

A detailed research of the Karabakh issue according to international law, was carried out by a well-known specialist in international law Dr. Otto Luchterhandt, the director of East European Research Departmentment at the University of Hamburg. He writes;

“The right of self-determination is not only a political principle but a rule of existing international law. The people of Nagorny Karabakh is the subject of the right to self-determination. The people of Nagorny Karabakh can claim for the highest level fulfillment of the law of self-determination – secession from the state of Azerbaijan because on the one hand its restriction to the status of a national minority stands in no reasonable relation to its legitimate interests in development and protection, and on the other hand the measure of its oppression has reached such unbearable proportions, that remaining in the federation of Azerbaijan has become unacceptable and it has announced it will for self-determination in an unmistakable and convincing manner”.9

According to the “Principle Catalogue” of the CSCE-Final act;

“The participating States will respect the equal rights of peoples and their right to self-determination, acting at all times in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the relevant norms of international law, including those relating to territorial integrity of States.

By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples always have the right, in full freedon, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development”.

The entry into force of the two Covenants on Human Rights of January 16, 1966, on January 3 and March 23, 1976, has led to the certainly that the peoples’ right to self-determination is a norm of universal international law.

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