“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….” This is how the Declaration of Independence started for the 13 colonies of the embryonic United States of America, signed on 4th July 1776. The War of Independence started in 1775, and didn’t end until 1783, seven years after the unilateral declaration had been signed by the heads of the colonies. The Treaty of Paris concluded the war, and was signed by all parties; the first article clearly determined that:
“Acknowledging the United States to be free, sovereign and independent states, and that the British Crown and all heirs and successors relinquish claims to the Government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same, and every part thereof”
Whilst Great Britain does not have an exemplary record in Foreign Affairs throughout its history, on this occasion, the conclusion of this war recognised the will of the people over the strict legal position on territorial integrity. A lesson that the world seems to have forgotten in the 21st Century.
236 years later in an act based on principle and global leadership, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, adopted a resolution called ”Supporting Nagorno-Karabakh’s Right to Self-Determination and Efforts to Develop its Democracy,” The resolution stated in its introduction:
“Whereas, for decades, Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, having arbitrarily been severed from Armenia and forced under Soviet Azerbaijani administration, peacefully demonstrated for self-determination and individual freedom and against Soviet Azerbaijani repression and discrimination…were met with acts of violent repression by Soviet Azerbaijani forces, resulting in the killings of ethnic Armenians in Sumgait (February 1988), Kirovabad (November 1988), and Baku (January 1990) and the forcible deportation of over 350,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan.
It also recognised that “Nagorno-Karabakh’s security continues to be threatened by Azerbaijan’s hostile acts” and its “continued efforts to develop as a free and independent nation,” and praised Artsakh’s “constructive involvement with the international community and its efforts to reach a lasting solution to the existing regional problems.”
Whilst the actions of this state will not make a seismic change in the overall peace process, a small action on a thousand separate fronts will make a difference. In world affairs, sometimes the apparent insignificance of the initial “butterfly wings” can lead to a “hurricane” relatively quickly. In November 1989, the sight of East Germans hitting the Berlin Wall with hammers was incredible to those whose lives were affected by the Cold War; 12 months later the whole of Germany was re-unified. On 17 December 2010 Mohammed Bouazizi set light to himself in a Tunisian market place, from which the whirlwind of the Arab Spring was born, affecting over a dozen countries, bringing down long-established regimes and changing people’s lives forever. The significance of both of these is that they resulted in the overthrow of unpopular structures, and the will of the people prevailed.
In the early months of 1776, 1989, and 2010, no one would have imagined how those years would have ended. One can never be sure how the smallest thing can gain momentum so quickly and change so much in such a short time; on this basis we should always remain optimistic about progress on “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” in Artsakh.
Categories: Life and People Artsakh