The Nagorno-Karabakh region has been a source of territorial and ethnic dispute since Russia established it as an Armenian-majority enclave of Azerbaijan in 1923. Today, it is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, but it continues to be a source of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the region today, fueled by a complex propaganda scheme and spearheaded by President Aliyev, tangible Armenian cultural heritage is being destroyed by the Azerbaijani government. Under international law, the destruction of cultural heritage is a crime. However, it is not currently considered a genocidal act under definitions set forth at the Genocide Convention. This paper will use the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict as a case study to demonstrate that the destruction of tangible cultural heritage is a genocidal act, because it seeks to destroy a group’s connection to the cultural landscape, which could lead to a social death of their intangible identity and culture.
Destruction of cultural heritage as a genocidal act: A case study of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict