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Restitution of housing and property related to forced displacement is at the core of many political debates on transitional justice. Does transitional justice provide a sufficient basis for understanding how to best respond to property claims following military conflict? And what kind of assistance programs are applied in an unrecognized state experiencing wartime? Eviya Hovhannisyan and Nika Musavi address these questions in the context of the Second Karabakh War.
The study by Eviya Hovhannisyan and Nika Musavi addresses the socio-legal aspects of property restitution after the Second Karabakh War. They explore the existence and content of the right to property restitution through the lens of transitional justice. Beyond that, specific problems in the institutional and bureaucratic spheres as well as the application of property restitution in practice is examined.
A wide range of questions is being explored: Does transitional justice provide a sufficient basis for understanding how to best respond to property claims following military conflict? Does a rights-based legal framework used in transitional justice provide adequate reparations for property damage in different socio-cultural and historical trajectories? What kind of reparation/assistance programs for lost property are applied in an unrecognized state experiencing wartime?
The authors outline the different situations of Armenian and Azerbaijani citizens: Azerbaijanis have mostly settled in other cities after the first Karabakh War, making a hypothetic return to their “historic homeland” an opportunity rather than a pressing need. Armenian authorities in Karabakh, instead, are unwilling to fulfil their responsibility of protecting the local Armenian population and often unable to resolve issues of assistance and compensation for lost property. At the same time, Azerbaijani authorities question the very possibility of the return of the Armenian population to the territory.
As long as Karabakh’s status is unresolved there will not be a real solution to the problem. Thus, many people are linking their future to a territory with no real guarantees that all may be lost again.
The complete study was published in the Caucasus Edition of the Journal of Conflict Transformation.