16 Nov 2020



Arthur Minasyan


What is Artsakh? Disputed territory? Political means for expansion? Or an excuse for ethnic cleansing?

On the morning of September 27, 2020, the question of Artsakh erupted like never before. The land awoke as a battlefield. Its people awoke as soldiers. Its children awoke as adults. The war erupted like never before.


The question of Artsakh first appeared in the early 1920s, during the ongoing genocidal atrocities against the Armenians and the other Christian minorities. During that time, Joseph Stalin gifted Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh), a historically Armenian land, to Soviet Azerbaijan. As a result, a wide protest by the Soviet-Armenian population transpired. To no avail, the uproar ultimately ceased, while Artsakh was left temporarily caged within the borders of Soviet Azerbaijan.

In 1988, before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the people of Artsakh revived their voice, declaring independence. Azerbaijan rejected this declaration. The decades’ war began, swallowing the lives of too many people: sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. Armenian and Azerbaijani. Thirty-two years later, the war and the wounds have only deepened.

Artsakh’s Status

Importantly, the question of Artsakh has also taken shape of a legal dilemma. Under the internationally recognized guidelines of state self-determination, is Artsakh an independent state? Pursuant to Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention, “the state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

Since the first three elements are widely recognized as true, the focus will be on the fourth, i.e., Artsakh’s capacity to enter into relations with other states. To clarify, this element requires the state’s capacity to enter into relations with other states. This does not require the state’s actual entering into relations with other states, which many mistakenly infer as a part of this rule.

So, the question is: does Artsakh have the capacity to enter into relations with other states? Yes, it does. The Republic of Artsakh, like many other states, has an official government, a Constitution, a president, and a flag. These integral parts of its state autonomy provide the Republic of Artsakh an opportunity, a capacity to deal with other states.

Additionally, the Republic of Artsakh has representative offices all over the world, including the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Armenia, Lebanon, and Australia. This also reflects the Republic of Artsakh’s capacity to establish and develop relations with other countries. As such, Artsakh clearly meets the guidelines of an independent state under the Montevideo Convention.

Recognition of Artsakh

A common counterargument is that Artsakh is not an independent state because it is not recognized globally as an independent state.

That is simply not the case. Under Article 7 of the Montevideo Convention, the recognition of a state may be express or tacit. “The latter results from any act which implies the intention of recognizing the new state.” As such, a lack of express recognition does not mean a lack of tacit recognition, especially considering Artsakh’s representative offices in the aforementioned countries.

Even if, however, we assume that no country recognizes the Republic of Artsakh, expressly or otherwise, it is still an independent state. Under Article 3 of the Montevideo Convention, “the political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states.” Stated differently, recognized or not, Artsakh is an independent state because it meets all of the requirements of Article 1 as explained above.

Who Is Artsakh? 

Let us assume that Artsakh is not an independent state. Let us even assume that Artsakh, endlessly torn, belongs to Azerbaijan. What does that change? Does that change what Artsakh is? Or are we asking the wrong question?

Artsakh is its people. Not geographical borders or territorial connections. People. Not political bounty or desired terrain. People. Not legal briefs or topics of debate. People.

People who have learned to live in bunkers. People who celebrate their weddings to the sound of explosions. People who read their prayers in bombed cathedrals. People who remain human in spite of the inhumanity. People who remain fearless and courageous. Unyielding and undeterred. And strong. #ArtsakhStrong.

I call upon everyone to raise awareness about this war, which desperately needs to be stopped.

09 Nov 2020

Humans of Artsakh: Aida M.

Aida M, a seventeen-year-old girl, is an 11th grader at Vitali Jhangiryan High School in Stepanakert, Artsakh. On the morning of September 27, 2020, at approximately 7:15 am, Aida was speaking to her father and the two were discussing sports as she was getting ready to begin her school assignments, when suddenly they heard the noise of bombing. The first hour of the bombing she was unable to contact or speak with her mother, as she had been in a gym during the attack. Once her mother returned, they went to the shelters seeking safety from the bombing. She felt safer there, although the electricity was inconsistent. The bombing in her neighborhood was constant. Her neighbor had been injured and was hospitalized. The windows and balconies of her family’s apartment were destroyed and the houses in front theirs had completely disappeared. She states “I can’t remember exactly how many times we heard sirens warning of bombs. It was very often.”  She never saw the full extent of damage to her hometown, as the next day her parents decided to send Aida and her siblings to Yerevan for safety.

Aida, along with her brother Aren (16) and her sister Sophia (19) are staying in a family home in the Yerevan while her parents remain in Stepanakert. Her sister, Sophia has been very frightened since she was sleeping when the bombing noise began and it terrified her. While in Yerevan Aida has been volunteering her time to help any way. Sadly, Aida’s grandfather had passed away a few days after the war began and her family arrived in Yerevan to organize his funeral, after which her parents went back home to Stepanakert. Aida is worried for her parents. Her father had been driving in their hometown when a bomb exploded nearby, and although they lost the family car, thankfully her father survived. When Aida speaks to her parents, they tell her that everything will be okay. Aida wants nothing more than to go back home, stating, “I miss my room, I miss my home, I miss my school, I miss my Artsakh.” Aida is ambitious and has many goals she wants to accomplish. She says, “my only dream is peace. But I also want to become a good lawyer and maybe I’ll be able to show the world the REAL JUSTICE and really protect human’s rights.”

Photographs depict the first day of the attacks, in front of her family’s apartment and her family’s car


07 Nov 2020

Humans of Artsakh: Narine J.

Entry 2

I am doing okay, as the days pass quite fast, busy, and packed. I don’t seem to lack anything I need. I am staying in Armenia for another month, and then I will decide what my next step will be. 

Looking in the faces of the people in Armenia, you cannot help but notice the emotions of sadness, fear, deep concern, sense of being alone, helplessness, and also a strong sense of ‘we have got to win,’ there being no other option, and we have got to defend ourselves, because there is no other option. There is a tornado in people’s minds, including mine, which is actively being fueled by the pull of the news and social media exposure, to the point where I have made it a point to stay away as much as possible, so that I can use my energy more constructively, and not allow it to leak. 

Today, I think, every individual is winning if they can cultivate and maintain a tranquil mind, amidst the chaos – while they do what they need and can do – because if we lose that, we lose everything. I am also coming across people in Armenia, here and there, who are giving in to misinterpretations of the spiritual principle of “non-violence” or “non-harm” to condemn war for both parties, thus making the unforgivable error of viewing self-defense as an act of violence. Of course, I would always suggest those people to wave their flag of peace and non-violence not from their homes, but to take it right to the front-line and wave it in front of the enemy soldiers, and then see what happens. Also, I would ask them, “what would you do if it was your mother, your father and brother, being slaughtered in front of your eyes? Would you go to the perpetrator and wave a flag of peace OR grab the nearest tool or weapon to defend them?

I can see Masis from my window, Masis is so grounded and calm, yet it has seen countless atrocities and injustice over the centuries… This too shall pass, Masis thinks…

People talk so much, governments too, yet there is no substantial ACTION coming from them. We have to rely on ourselves, as a collective. 

I cherish instances of hope where I come across someone who is not afraid to name things as they are, who has morals and can speak the truth unafraid, without being “politically correct” or selling their mother to money. In therapy there is a wonderful saying that goes: “Trust the behavior, not the words!”

This is all that came to mind now. 

05 Nov 2020

PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF WAR TRAUMA on the Soldier, the Family, and the Armenian People

A Conversation with Dr. Ani Kalayjian

For three decades Dr. Ani Kalayjian has studied, explored, and practiced many different healing modalities. In addition to formal psychotherapy and various spiritual teachings, Dr. Kalayjian combines her own knowledge and experience into uniquely individualized and integrative programs. This empowers each of her clients to reach their inner healing and wellness potential. She is the founder of Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress & Genocide and ATOP Meaningful World, and has volunteered in Armenia since the devastating earthquake in 1988.



Thursday, November 12, 2020

5:00 p.m. Pacific | 8:00 p.m. Eastern

No prior registration required.

Zoom Link

To be involved in the Bar’s efforts, including media outreach, legal initiatives, regulatory research, information dissemination, and Artsakh recognition, please contact us.

05 Nov 2020

Humans of Artsakh: Narine J.

Entry 1

I am safe and well. waking up three days a week at night to do my classes on zoom, and then somewhat recovering from sleepiness during the day. Also, my meditation teacher and I have been reaching out to those interested in meditation and we were pleasantly surprised to find people who are genuinely interested; especially now, people are searching for healthy and sustainable ways to deal with their pain, and the external turmoil we are exposed to. My teacher and I are working on translating key content and literature on meditation from English into Armenian, making this process even more meaningful and effective. 

It happened so that my meditation teacher, who is also a licensed psychotherapist from CA, started seeing clients here, and we have already had a number of people from Artsakh who are now in Yerevan, come for sessions! Every time they leave the session I can see the difference… It’s as if I am in training, learning from my mentor/teacher, as I continue my MA remotely to officially start working as a psychotherapist (MFT) once I graduate in May.