What was UN Security Council Resolution 884, adopted on November 12, 1993, about?

At its 3313th meeting, on November 12, 1993, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 884 based on the letter from the Chairman-in-Office of the Minsk Group on Nagorno Karabakh, particular on the occupation of the Zangilan district and the city of Goradiz of the Azerbaijan Republic, to the President of the Security Council and its enclosures (S/26718), which was dated November 9, 1993. While reaffirming its previous Resolutions 822 of April 30, 1993, 853 of July 29, 1993, and 874 of October 14, 1993, in this Resolution, the Security Council also expressed its serious concern at how the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan had developed, and at how the tensions between the parties to the conflict, Armenia and Azerbaijan, could endanger regional peace and security. Furthermore, the Security Council reaffirmed the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by force, and also the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic. It demanded the immediate cessation of armed hostilities and other hostile acts, as well as the withdrawal of military forces from all the occupied regions of Azerbaijan, including Zangilan and the city of Goradiz, following the adjusted timetable. Moreover, the Security Council reiterated its request to the Secretary-General, the Chairman-in-Office of the CSCE, and the Chairman of the Minsk Group to continue reporting to the Council about the progress of the Minsk process and all aspects of the conflict.[1]

As mentioned earlier, Resolution 884 was adopted after the Zangilan district and the Azerbaijani city of Goradiz had been overrun in the joint offensive from Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in late October 1993. According to Human Rights Watch, the main objective of the offensive was to seize the rail junction at Goradiz and leave the inhabitants of Zangilan and military units of Azerbaijan without their main escape route. By doing this, Armenian forces would control a major bridge into Iran. Referring to several foreign aid workers and diplomats in Zangilan, Human Rights Watch indicated that, before the offensive on Zangilan, Armenians ordered the region’s population to leave the area, broadcasting their message on the radio on October 23. Inhabitants who got information about this managed to escape to Iran by the Goradiz Bridge. However, later on, the bridge was destroyed and refugees of Zangilan were forced to flee across the Aras River, where most drowned, becoming part of the one million-refugee camp of Azerbaijan.[2]

Zangilan, with 33,890 inhabitants and a territory of 707 sq. km., was the last occupied region of Azerbaijan.[3] As a result of this offensive, all the remaining territory of Azerbaijan between Karabakh and the Aras River was in the hands of Armenian forces. During the occupation of Zangilan, Armenians forced the civil population to evacuate the region, took many hostages, killed civilians by firing indiscriminately, and looted and burned their property.[4] According to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Global IDP Database, 34,797 inhabitants of Zangilan became IDPs and settled in the various regions of Azerbaijan.[5] During the offensive, 9 pre-school establishments, 19 primary schools, 15 secondary schools, technical schools, music schools, 35 libraries, 8 culture houses, 23 clubs, and 22 film projectors were destroyed in the Zangilan region.[6]

Following the offensive against the last occupied regions of Azerbaijan, the Chairman of the CSCE Council expressed his concern over the development of the conflict and highlighted that the “[a]cquisition of territory by force can never be condoned or accepted as a basis for territorial claims” on October 26, 1993. Regarding the offensive, a declaration that was approved by the nine countries of the Minsk Group on November 4, 1993, stood on the same line and stated, “no acquisition of territory by force can be recognized, and the occupation of territory cannot be used to obtain international recognition or to impose a change of legal status.” In addition, three days later, on November 9, the European Union, in its statement, reiterated “the importance it attaches to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE.”[7] The Minsk Group also issued a new timetable for “urgent measures.” Resolution 884, accepted on November 12, 1993, by the Security Council, condemned the offensive on Zangilan and called on the parties to the conflict to implement the “urgent measures” issued by the Minsk Group to end the conflict.[8] However, this had no positive impact on the withdrawal of occupying forces from the territories of Azerbaijan. During that time, the Armenians had already reached their maximum territorial extension and occupied 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory, which stayed under the control of the Armenian forces until the Second Karabakh War of 2020.

[1] United Nations Security Council, “Resolution 884,” s/RES/884, November 12, 1993.

[2] Human Rights Watch, Azerbaijan: Seven years of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh (USA: Human Rights Watch, December 1994), p. 40.

[3] “Sixteen years pass since occupation of Azerbaijan’s Zengilan region by Armenia,” Today.az, October 29, 2009; http://www.today.az/news/politics/57018.html. Accessed on December 3, 2022.

[4] Human Rights Watch, Azerbaijan: Seven years of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, p. 39.

[5] “Profile of International Displacement: Azerbaijan,” Global IDP Database of the Norwegian Refugee Council, February 25, 2005, p. 29.

[6] “Sixteen years pass since occupation of Azerbaijan’s Zengilan region by Armenia”.

[7] Annex to the letter dated May 23, 2013 from the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations, addressed to the Secretary-General, p. 8.

[8] Human Rights Watch, Azerbaijan: Seven years of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, pp. 79-80.