Self-Defense in Karabakh Conflict?

Full Text:


Use of force is one of the principles of international law that has been banned by the UN Charter and modern constitutions. However, since the enforcement of the UN Charter, self-defense has become the preferred excuse for states to justify their use of force. Applying self-defense, however, requires some conditions. Immediacy is one of the important conditions of self-defense. This is defined as the timeframe between armed attacks and reaction to it. This situation requires self-defense immediately after the armed conflict or during a reasonable timeframe since its occurance.

In this respect, emerging Karabakh Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the 1990s is important. In this article, by comparing two different approaches (strict and board interpretation) of the temporal link between the measures of self-defense and the armed attacks (immediacy), the temporal link between the self-defense countermeasures of Azerbaijan and attacks by Armenia in Karabakh Conflict will be examined.

About the Author

Saeed Bagheri
Akdeniz University

LL.B., Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Department of International Law,

Dumlupinar blvd., Campus, Antalya, 07058


1. Abasov, Ali, & Khachatrian, Haroutiun. The Karabakh Conflict. Variants of Settlement: Concepts and Reality 52 (3rd ed., Areat; Noyan Tapan 2006).

2. Abdullahzade, Cavid. Hukuki Yönleriyle Dağlık Karabağ Sorunu (Adalet Yayınevi 2013).

3. Arend, Anthony C., & Beck, Robert J. International Law and the Use of Force: Beyond the U.N. Charter Paradigm 17 (Routledge 1993).

4. Aust, Anthony. Handbook of International Law 229 (Cambridge University Press 2005).

5. Avakian, Shahen. Nagorno Karabakh: Legal Aspects 22 (4th ed., ‘TIGRAN METS’ Pub. House 2013).

6. Bailey, Sydney D. Cease-Fires, Truces, and Armistices in the Practice of the UN Security Council, 71 Am. J. Int’l L. 461, 469 (1977).

7. Barboza, Julio. Necessity (Revisited) in International Law, in Essays in International Law in Honour of Judge Manfred Lachs 27, 41 (Jerzy Makarczyk) (Martinus Nijhoff Pub. 1984).

8. Başer, Bahar. Third Party Mediation in Nagorno Karabakh: Part of the Cure or Part of the Disease?, 3(5) Journal of Central Asian & Caucasian Studies (2008), available at <> (accessed Dec. 10, 2015).

9. Bowett, Derek. Reprisals Involving Recourse to Armed Force, 66 Am. J. Int’l L. 1, 3 (1972).

10. Combacau, Jean. The Exception of Self-Defense in U.N. Practice, in The Current Legal Regulation of the Use of Force 9, 21 (Antonio Cassese, ed.) (Martinus Nijhoff Pub. 1986).

11. Cornell, Svante E. Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus 81 (Curzon Press 2001), available at <

12. Powers__A_Study_of_Ethnopolitical_Conflict_in_the_Caucasus__.pdf> (accessed Dec. 10, 2015).

13. Damrosch, Lori F., et al. International Law: Cases and Materials 920 (4th ed., West Pub. Co. 2001).

14. Dinstein, Yoram. War, Agression and Self-Defense 203, 210, 221, 242–43 (3rd ed., Cambridge University Press 2001).

15. Eliasson, Jan, & Mossberg, Mathias. Nagorno-Karabach: Den Glömda Konflikten, 1998(2) Internationella Studier.

16. Gardam, Judith. Necessity, Proportionality and the Use of Force by States 149–153 (Cambridge University Press 2004).

17. Gill, Terry D. The Temporal Dimension of Self-Defense: Anticipation, Pre-Emption, Prevention and Immediacy, 11(3) Journal of Conflict & Security Law 361, 369 (2006). doi:10.1093/jcsl/krl018

18. Glahn, Gerhard von, & Taulbee, James L. Law among Nations: An Introduction to Public International Law 637–640 (7th ed., Allyn and Bacon 1996).

19. Hyde, Charles C. 3 International Law Chiefly as Interpreted and Applied by the United States 239 (2nd ed., Little, Brown & Co. 1945).

20. Jennings, R.Y. The Caroline and Mcleod Case, 32 Am. J. Int’l L. 82, 89 (1938).

21. Kaikobad, Kaiyan H. Jus ad Bellum: Legal Implications of the Iran-Iraq War, in The Gulf War of 1980–88: The Iran-Iraq War in International Legal Perspective 51, 64–65 (Ige F. Dekker & Harry H.G. Post, eds.) (Martinus Nijhoff Pub. 1992).

22. Kenny, Kevin C. Self-Defense, in 2 United Nations: Law, Policies and Practice 1162, 1164 (Rüdiger Wolfrum & Christiane Philipp, eds.) (Martinus Nijhoff Pub. 1995).

23. Keskin, Funda. Uluslararası Hukukta Kuvvet Kullanma: Savaş, Karışma ve Birleşmiş Milletler 43 (Mülkiyeliler Birliği Vakfı 1998).

24. Krüger, Heiko. The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis 95 (Springer 2010).

25. Lobel, Jules. The Use of Force to Respond to Terrorist Attacks: The Bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan, 24 Yale J. Int’l L. 537, 537–43 (1999).

26. Maresca, John J. Resolving the Conflict over Nagorno Karabakh: Lost Opportunities for International Conflict Resolution, in Managing Global Chaos: Sources of and Responses to International Conflict 255 (Chester A. Crocker et al., eds.) (United States Institute of Peace Press 1996).

27. Martyn, Angus. The Right of Self-Defense under International Law – the Response to the Terrorist Attacks of 11 September, 2001–02(8) Current Issues Brief, available at <> (accessed Dec. 10, 2015).

28. Müllerson, Rein, & Scheffer, David J. Legal Regulation of the Use of Force, in Beyond Confrontation International Law for the Post-Cold War Era 93, 104 (Lori Fisler et al., eds.) (Westview Press; ASIL 1995).

29. Niv, Ady. The International Court of Justice under the Scrutiny of Article 51, 2 Israel Defense Forces Law Review 173, 176 (2005–06).

30. Reisman, W. Michael. The Struggle for the Falklands, 93 Yale L.J. 287 (1983), available at <> (accessed Dec. 10, 2015).

31. Reismann, W. Michael. The Raid on Baghdad: Some Reflections on Its Lawfulness and Implications, 5(1) Eur. J. Int’l L. 125 (1994), available at <> (accessed December 10, 2015). doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.ejil.a035861

32. Rogoff, Martin A., & Collins, Edward, Jr. The Caroline Incident and the Development of International Law, 16 Brook. J. Int’l L. 493 (1990).

33. Schachter, Oscar. The Right of States to Use Armed Force, 82 Mich. L. Rev. 1620, 1636 (1984).

34. Schmitt, Michael N. Preemptive Strategies in International Law, 24 Mich. J. Int’l L. 513 (2003).

35. Tams, Christian J. The Necessity and Proportionality of Anti-Terrorist Self-Defense, in Counter-Terrorism Strategies in a Fragmented International Legal Order: Meeting the Challenges 373, 384 (Larissa van den Herik & Nico Schrijver, eds.) (Cambridge University Press 2013).

36. Waal, Thomas de. Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War 170 (New York University Press 2003), available at <https://raufray.files.wordpress. com/2010/11/0814719449.pdf> (accessed Dec. 10, 2015).

Supplementary files

For citation: Bagheri S. Self-Defense in Karabakh Conflict?. Russian Law Journal. 2015;3(4):150-164.

Views: 971


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)