The Management of International Relations


The contemporary post colonial and largely globalizing world repeatedly faces conflicts in different regions and countries, which evolve based on political, social, and economic disagreements. There is not always a place for diplomacy in the relations between countries where military tensions are extensively utilized. The Russian Federation, France, and the USA have a biased attitude toward Armenia, which violates the principles of a just settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh war using diplomatic means. Therefore, without credibility in the Minsk Group’s activities in the conflict area, Armenia is supported by the three state-leaders of the Minsk Group, which influences its reluctance to comply with international law. In such a manner, Armenia violates civilian safety principles with deliberate attacks imposed on Azerbaijani territory and does not tolerate the attempts of Azerbaijan to settle the conflict peacefully. As a result, Azerbaijan had to resolve the conflict via force and political means without external help from OSCE. Therefore, the involvement of the OSCE Minsk Group consisting of Russia, France, and the USA only complicated the issues in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of this international actor in the resolution of the long-lasting military conflict.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: International Actor Overview

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a security organization with the largest number of members in the world, the involvement of which in international affairs is designed to help countries manage their relational issues. The organization works “for stability, peace, and democracy for more than a billion people, through political dialogue about shared values and through practical work that aims to make a lasting difference” (The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe [OSCE], 2021, para. 1). The organization includes 57 states across Europe, Asia, and North America to integrate multiple members for joint peace-making on the territories that require humanitarian troops’ involvement.

In the 1970-s, the organization originated as a Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe and functioned merely as a set of meetings and conferences where the member-states had an opportunity to resolve issues in politics, economy, and society (OSCE, 2021). Later, in the 1990-s, due to institutionalization issues, the organization was renamed and obtained its current title. Originally, OSCE was used as a platform for political, diplomatic dialogue between the countries of the East and the countries of the West (OSCE, 2021). Moreover, as the historical development of this international actor unfolded, it first had one chair state, then there were two co-chairs, and now there are three co-chairs in the organization. Such a particularity significantly impacts the functioning of OSCE and sets the national interests of the co-chairs, namely France, Russia, and the USA, as the prioritized ones (Abilov, 2018). Thus, the historical context in which OSCE emerged and developed has significantly influenced the way the organization functions and which goals and priorities it sets and pursues.

The Role of OSCE in Global Issues

The primary mission of the organization is to maintain peace and ensure security on the international level by launching initiatives and overseeing the relations between states. It is a “forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action to improve the lives of individuals and communities” (OSCE, 2021, para. 2). The main values of the organization are peace, trust, tolerance, and respect toward differences in order to preserve security and safety for all societies and states. It operates in the political, economic, environmental, and humanitarian fields to leverage differences between states and provide the conflicting sides a platform for diplomatic discussions, clear and safe dialogue, as well as support for peaceful resolution of tensions (OSCE, 2021). The principles of inclusion and cooperation are essential for OSCE. It works to ensure “conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation,” using the efforts of its multiple institutions and specifically created departments (OSCE, 2021, para. 3). Thus, the international actor is an important participant in global affairs.

The Influence of OSCE Objectives and Activities on the Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

The specific issue area addressed in the context of OSCE’s work is the military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, known as the Nagorno-Karabakh war, which started in the 1990s had been a long-lasting geopolitical problem for a long time until its ultimate resolution by Azerbaijan in 2020. At the time of the Soviet Union, the Nagorno-Karabakh area belonged to the Azerbaijan Republic despite the majority of its population being Armenian. With the separation of the two countries from the Soviet Union, the tensions around the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh region increased and emerged into a war. In 1992, the OSCE forces became involved in settlement of the conflict, trying to mediate it and provide the parties a political platform to negotiate. The military conflict intensified and decreased throughout the years but was never completely resolved. The lack of a resolution was due to the inability of the two states to reach an agreement on the status of the disputed area and the ineffectiveness of the international actor in attempting to help.

Among the many countries within the OSCE members, several countries, namely the members of the Minsk Group, were actively involved in the attempts of settling the conflict or at least managing its progress. Throughout the years, the representatives of the Russian Federation, France, and the USA visited the Nagorno-Karabakh region as peace-makers and negotiating mediators or supporters. However, no agreement was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan during a long time of the conflict. It has been for almost thirty years that OSCE has participated in settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. According to (Abilov, 2018:143), “the OSCE Minsk Group was created by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in 1992 to provide a political solution and a peaceful settlement to the dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region”. The Minsk Group was specifically formed to oversee and mediate the conflict in the region by ensuring that the two states are acting in a lawful and just manner under the provisions of international law.

Nonetheless, despite the peace-making goals and the overall humanistic principles proclaimed by OSCE, it failed to be an effective mediator of the military tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Importantly, the global community that expressed significant concern about the military Armenian-Azerbaijani unrest anticipated a fast and effective settlement. Such anticipation was validated by the involvement of multiple states in the negotiations. OSCE “consists of not only the regional countries, such as Russia and Turkey, but also European and North American countries, which inspired the belief that such a broad representation would end the conflict peacefully” (Abilov, 2018:146). However, the partial peaceful settlement was achieved only temporarily without full resolution of the conflict.

Indeed, the most important and progressive changes in the conflict settlement that were induced by the Minsk Group of OSCE were achieved not long after the beginning of the war. According to historians, “the only achievements that can be considered in the settlement of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh are the ceasefire agreement that was signed in May 1994 in Bishkek and the Moscow declaration of 2008” (Abilov, 2018:146). Indeed, OSCE managed to achieve the stopping of active fire in the region in 1994, which was only a formal peace agreement between the two parties.

In reality, the conflict continued, although the active stage of the military conflict had ceased. As the war evolved, the line of contact was militarized; the member states provided the conflicting sides with military equipment and weapons to pursue the claimed interests of the rivals. Indeed, substantial military loans were provided to the countries, namely by Russia to Armenia, in order to assist the opposition between the conflicting states along the line of contact (Mustafayeva, 2018). Moreover, the latest events in the conflict with the intensification of the military attacks in the spring of 2020 demonstrated the reluctance and ineffectiveness of the representatives of the Minsk Group in the region. Indeed, Armenia violated all international laws and attacked Azerbaijan relentlessly.

Since the two sides of the conflict, namely Azerbaijan and Armenia, had their allies among other nations that expressed their support toward one country or another. In particular, Russia and the USA were particularly supportive of Armenia, while Turkey provided its support to Azerbaijan. In such a manner, the international relations between the involved states were marked by the lack of agreement on the side who should benefit from the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh war. The actions of OSCE were no longer characterized by mediating efforts but were artificially aligned with the national interests of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, namely Russia, the USA, and France (Abilov, 2018; Guliyev & Gawrich, 2021; Mustafayeva, 2018). In response to such a reluctant and ineffective performance on the side of OSCE, Azerbaijan had no other chance than to respond with force and political influence to oppose Armenia and demand signing an agreement about the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Constraints Experienced by the International Actor when Pursuing its Goals

It is not only the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that OSCE deemed ineffective in balancing the pursuit of its goals and principles with the national interests of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group. Indeed, as stated by Guliyev and Gawrich (2021), the organization continues the same ineffective policy of artificially maintaining the conflict without its peaceful settlement in Eastern Ukraine. Thus, it is evident that the international actor named OSCE performs its duties under the strong influence of its member countries, which implies an array of political and economic constraints. Firstly, the organization is funded by the member states, which triggers compliance with their national interests (OSCE, 2021). However, in the globalizing world marked by post colonialism, the national interests of particular states, such as the United States of America and Russia, are intertwined with other states. Indeed. their ambitions to occupy or influence the political order in independent states, which were formerly their colonies or dependents, guide their tactics as members of peace-making organizations.

Secondly, the organization’s influential constraint is its insufficient independence in making a decision. In particular, as defined by the researchers, “OSCE mediation strategies were constrained given its weak organizational capacity” (Guliyev & Gawrich, 2021:1). Indeed, institutional constraints that are inherent in the overall framework of international organizations like OSCE impede their ability to deliver their objectives. According to Baylis et al. (2020), international organizations formed on the basis of complementary cooperation, meaning that the state members work collaboratively to mitigate risks for conflict, was an effective idea in theory. In particular, “the developing pattern of institutionalized cooperation among states opens up unprecedented opportunities to achieve greater international security in the years ahead” (Baylis et al., 2020, p. 244). This assertion has been widely supported by academics and politicians.

However, in practice, the mutual cooperation of states within OSCE as an institution is not deprived on the individual political concerns of the countries. Such “a framework of complementary, mutually reinforcing institutions” fails to achieve its goals due to the unequal representation of the power of influence within the organizations (Baylis et al., 2020, p. 244). In the time of post-colonialism, former colonists continue pressing their interests over formerly dependent territories, which imposes a significant conflict of interests when they perform as state members of OSCE. For example, Russia’s involvement in the conflict in the East of Ukraine directly contradicts the interests of OSCE to stop the conflict (Baylis et al., 2020, p. 251). Moreover, Russia’s biased attitude toward Armenia is validated by its political and national interests in these territories, which is why this country does not pursue decisive and successful action as a member of OSCE.

Thirdly, OSCE lacks legal empowerment and functions in an adverse geopolitical environment, which also constrains its ability to make swift and functional decisions (Guliyev & Gawrich, 2021). In the results, “due to these structural limitations, the OSCE can be said to have been more effective in containing conflict than contributing to conflict resolution” (Guliyev & Gawrich, 2021:1). Thus, the inability of OSCE to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a peaceful and timely manner demonstrates the failure of the international actors to pursue the goals and principles that guided their initial establishment. Since Azerbaijan was forced to respond with military means, societies suffered, lives were lost, and the war was not avoided, which contradicts the overall mission of OSCE. Thus, through its failure in the Azerbaijani-Armenian was a settlement and the usage of the same strategies in Eastern Ukraine, OSCE demonstrates its dysfunctional performance as a forum for peace promotion.


The management of international relations in the contemporary globalizing world necessitates finding rational, resilient, and plausible solutions that would satisfy all parties involved. However, the reality of the world order today implies the presence of biased and implied political interests across international organizations. The membership of particular states in international organizations predetermines the subjectivity of such members’ decisions and objectives. The analysis of the functioning of OSCE in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has demonstrated that OSCE was ineffective in helping resolve the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It has neglected multiple opportunities to settle a peaceful agreement between the two countries for almost three decades. Due to the membership of Russian, France, and the USA as co-chairs in the Minsk Group, their involvement in the conflict resolution was particularly biased due to their support expressed toward Armenia. Thus, the review of OSCE’s objectives and mission on the background of its actual decision shows that multiple political constraints affect the ability of this international actor to pursue its genuine goals to their fullest.


Abilov, S. (2018). OSCE Minsk Group: Proposals and failure, the view from Azerbaijan. Insight Turkey, 20(1), 143-164.

Baylis, J., Smith, S., & Owens, O. (2020). The globalization of world politics: An introduction to international relations (8th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Guliyev, F., & Gawrich, A. (2021). OSCE mediation strategies in Eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh: a comparative analysis. European Security, 1-20. Web.

Mustafayeva, N. (2018). The danger of no peace, no war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish Policy Quarterly, 16(4), 119-129.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. (2021). Who we are. Web.

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