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The Artsakh Crisis in Comparative Perspective

The Artsakh Crisis in Comparative Perspective

A panel discussion on self-determination, remedial secession, and international law.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
9:00 AM (Pacific Time)
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Remedial secession, a process whereby a people can declare independence, is a nebulous concept in international law and there are many questions surrounding its practice. When can a people declare independence? What is remedial secession and when may it apply? What lessons can Palestine, East Timor, and Western Sahara teach us about the Artsakh crisis?

The panel will examine issues of external self-determination and remedial secession in the context of the recent Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh conflict. The goal of the panel is to place the Artsakh issue in comparative perspective and survey the state of international law and practice at present on cases of remedial secession. 

Join The Promise Institute for Human Rights as internationally respected panelists bring their nuanced expertise to this conversation and assess what remedial secession might mean in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh.

With remarks from Ralph Bunche, General-Secretary, Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization.



John Dugard is a South African legal scholar who lives in The Hague, Netherlands. He holds law degrees from the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cambridge. In South Africa he directed the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, attached to the University of the Witwatersrand, which engaged in human rights advocacy, research, and litigation during the apartheid years. More recently he has taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Leiden. He served as a member of the UN International Law Commission from 1997 to 2011, and as a judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice from 2000 to 2018. He has chaired two international fact-finding missions into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. From 2001 to 2008 he was UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He has written extensively on human rights and apartheid in South Africa, Namibia and Palestine. His memoir Confronting Apartheid. A Personal History of South Africa, Namibia and Palestine was published in 2018.


Sheila Paylan is a public international lawyer specializing in international criminal law, humanitarian law and human rights. She spent more than 13 years working as a legal advisor for the United Nations at various international tribunals as well as with OHCHR, and has recently moved to Armenia to assist the government with the post-war transition. Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Sheila studied law at McGill University where she received a BCL and a JD, as well as an LLM specializing in public international law from the University of London. She has published on the subjects of genocide and crimes against humanity, as well as remedial secession and the responsibility to protect.


Geoffrey Robinson is a Professor of History at UCLA where he teaches and writes about political violence, genocide, and human rights, primarily in Southeast Asia. A Canadian, he received his BA from McGill University, his MA from the University of British Columbia, and his PhD from Cornell University. Before coming to UCLA in 1997, Robinson worked for six years at Amnesty International’s Research Department in London, and in 1999 he served as a Political Affairs Officer with the United Nations in Dili, East Timor. His major works include: The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali (Cornell, 1995); East Timor 1999: Crimes against Humanity (Elsham & Hak, 2006); “If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die”: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor (Princeton, 2010); and most recently, The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66 (Princeton, 2018). His current projects include a co-authored visual history of the mass violence of 1965-66 in Indonesia. 


Milena Sterio is the Charles R. Emrick Jr. - Calfee Halter & Griswold Professor of Law at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Co-Coordinator for Global Criminal Justice Partnerships at the Public International Law and Policy Group.  Milena Sterio is a leading expert on international law, international criminal law and human rights. Milena Sterio is one of six permanent editors of the prestigious IntLawGrrls blog, and a frequent contributor to the blog focused on international law, policy and practice. In the spring of 2013, Sterio was selected as a Fulbright Scholar, spending the semester in Baku, Azerbaijan, at Baku State University. While in Baku, she had the opportunity to teach and conduct research on secession issues under international law related to the province of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh. Serving as a maritime piracy law expert, she has participated in meetings of the United Nations Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia as well as in the work of the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Forum. Sterio has also assisted piracy prosecutions in Mauritius, Kenya and the Seychelles Islands. Sterio is a graduate of Cornell Law School and the University of Paris I, and was an associate in the New York City firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton before joining the ranks of academia full time. She has published seven books and numerous law review articles. Her latest book, The Syrian Conflict’s Impact on International Law, (co-authored with Paul Williams and Michael Scharf) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. 



Aslı Ü. Bâli is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Faculty Director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA Law.



This event is hosted by the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA Law and co-sponsored by The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College, Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization, American Society of International Law, and the International & Comparative Law Program at UCLA School of Law.