YEREVAN, Armenia — On April 29, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Master of Laws (LL.M.) program hosted a seminar entitled: “Title to Territory, Sovereignty, and Constitution: Armenia at the Point of No Return.”
LL.M. Chair, Assistant Professor Adelaida Baghdasaryan introduced the topic and seminar speakers: AUA Adjunct Lecturer Dr. Arman Tatoyan, AUA Human Rights and Social Justice (HRSJ) program Chair, Assistant Professor Siranush Sahakyan, and AUA Adjunct Lecturer Dr. Levon Gevorgyan. Baghdasaryan highlighted the importance of the topic, especially in light of the post-war developments. She also noted that the discussions are expressly intended to be academic, apolitical, and focused on the legal and factual analysis of the situation with application of national and international legal norms and principles.
Dr. Tatoyan was the first to speak and introduced his line of argument noting, “Today’s topic is indeed very important. It deals with the protection of the rights of each one of us, especially those of our compatriots living in border regions.” Focusing on the developments in the border communities of Armenia following the 2020 Artsakh war, Tatoyan described the current situation and the intrusions of the Azerbaijani armed forces into the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, namely into the Syunik and Gegharkunik regions. He went on showing on the map the areas into which the Azerbaijani forces had intruded. The fact-finding mission that he led has documented facts about “the gross violations of the rights of our citizens.”
In his presentation, Tatoyan stressed that, apart from its grave military and political implications, the intrusion by Azerbaijani forces has created issues of security and human rights, which need to be raised in international platforms. Speaking of the Armenian villages in the immediate vicinity of which Azerbaijan has deployed forces, Tatoyan referred to EU Case-law, which characterizes the presence of Azerbaijani forces in those areas as a violation of Armenian people’s right to life. “The presence of the Azerbaijani armed forces creates many multi-layered problems: the issue of the right to life, the right to freedom of movement, the issue of property rights, and other related rights,” he elaborated.
Speaking next was Dr. Gevorgyan who focused on territorial integrity and title to territory related issues, also as applied to the Republic of Armenia (RA). He discussed several statements made by RA officials in reference to “Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity” and “Soviet administrative borders.” Examining these issues in an international context, Gevorgyan elaborated on the possible interpretations of these statements and their unfavorable consequences for Armenia. In particular, with regards to the concept of inheriting the Soviet Armenia borders in accordance with the uti possidetis principle, as largely discussed by the political leadership of the country, Dr. Gevorgyan stressed that it should not be acceptable: uti possidetis as a political concept must be applied only based on mutual agreement, as it was applied in cases of colonial territories staying within their borders when acquiring independence. “This principle should not be applied to Armenia, and there must be a stronger approach to the border and territory related issues based on the title to territory principle,” Dr. Gevorgyan concluded.
In her turn, Siranush Sahakyan discussed the November 9 trilateral statement from the standpoint of the RA Constitution, arguing that “it had a broader subject-matter than just the cessation of hostilities.” She underscored that this document practically created legal consequences, and as such, can be considered as an international treaty. However, the RA Constitution has established a mandatory procedure for ex ante constitutional review and ratification by the National Assembly for such international treaties, which was not followed with regards to the November 9 document. “As such, this document’s legal validity and its legal grounds are questionable,” Sahakyan summed up.
An active Q&A session followed, during which the audience had the chance to ask questions to the speakers and engage in more discussions.
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.