Formal groups of states

Another approach to conflict resolution has involved the establishment of formal groups of states operating under OSCE auspices to try to assist disputing parties to resolve their differences peacefully. These may take the form of:

  • Contact groups
  • “Friends” of a particular country
  • A formal group such as the “Minsk Group” which was established to prepare for an eventual peace conference to resolve the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh
The OSCE Minsk Group

A mix of ethnic Armenians and Azeris originally populated Nagorno-Karabakh, formerly an autonomous region within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan (SSR). The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh began even before the breakup of the Soviet Union. In 1988 the Regional Council of Nagorno-Karabakh petitioned the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR and that of the Armenian SSR to transfer sovereignty over the region from the former to the latter. This was followed by sporadic violence between Armenians and Azeris both within Nagorno-Karabakh and along their common border.

When the Soviet Union collapsed and both republics became independent, the fighting became more intense as the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh drove virtually all ethnic Azeris out of the territory and began to fight in earnest to separate from Azerbaijan and to unite with the newly independent Armenian state.

L-r: The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors Jacques Faure of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, after their address to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 22 March 2012. Credit: OSCE/David Challenger

L-r: The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors Jacques Faure of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, after their address to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 22 March 2012. ( OSCE/ David Challenger)

When both Armenia and Azerbaijan joined the CSCE in January 1992, the organization immediately addressed the conflict. In March 1992 the CSCE created a group of eleven member states to prepare a peace conference in Minsk. (Since 1996 this group has been led by a “troika” of “co-chairmen”—special envoys representing France, Russia, and the United States.)