On the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict 

Protesters in Hollywood supporting Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, protest outside CNN building in Los Angeles, Oct. 4, 2020 (Shutterstock).

Blake Ramsey 

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict is an ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the contested region the conflict’s name derives from. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani land despite its autonomous leadership.  
The conflict dates back to as early as 1988 but escalated in the last decade, with flare up spikes in April of 2016 and September of 2020. In 2020, Azerbaijan launched an offensive across the contested borderline with the help of Turkey, looking to gain a greater geopolitical presence in the region. Over 7,000 combatants were killed among both sides showing the bloodshed of the war. The fighting eventually subsided; however, it has once again broken out as of Sept. 20 this year. Armenia claimed that Azerbaijan was the aggressor in this new fighting while Azerbaijan claimed that they were responding to bombing from Armenia. In this most recent round of conflict, forty-nine Armenians were killed. While the war’s lethality is a significant consequence, its further geopolitical effects have been even more devastating.  
In 2020 alone, more than 90,000 people were displaced because of the war. One of the worst aspects of it is the constant revamping of tensions, typical for border conflicts, keeping the region in peril and chaos despite past peace agreement attempts. This conflict has not been covered much by mass media, especially as of recent because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But the conflict has equally real implications for the people living there. For instance, UNICEF reported that in their 2020-2021 fiscal year over 30,000 children were affected by this conflict and required provision of necessary things such as school supplies, food, and COVID-19 prevention gear.  

In addition to civilian casualties and displacements, the Azerbaijani military was found unlawfully detaining civilians in the region, subjecting them to torture, according to the Human Rights Watch. Not only is human torture an international crime, but civilians themselves are designated as a protected class under the Fourth Geneva Convention, suggesting that Azerbaijan broke international law during the original conflict. The Human Rights Watch also reported that Azerbaijan failed to return all prisoners to Armenia at the end of the 2020 flare-up, breaking the terms of the settled upon peace agreement brokered by Russia.  
While Azerbaijan is the original aggressor in the conflict – despite Azerbaijani claims of the opposite, Armenia is not without fault. Amnesty International reported that there were over 100 casualties in territories ceded to Azerbaijan from Armenian forces and mines. Tensions at the border have subsided recently from their peak in early 2022, but a vigilant eye must be kept on the situation because of its potential to cause even further harm in the region. 

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