When Kamal Makili-Aliyev’s “Contested Territories and International Law: A Comparative Study of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and the Aland Islands Precedent” arrived in the mail, I was really, really excited to read it. I thought – and still do think – that comparing the disputes between the Aland Islands and Nagorno-Karabakh was a brilliant and novel approach to understanding the right of peoples to self-determination in international law!
Sadly, whatever excitement I felt before I read this book rapidly dissipated once I started reading it. Instead of a Cassese-style legal analysis, the book is a far more Kruger and Balayev-style legal analysis, characterized by its ahistoricism and almost militant liberal biases. Indeed, I found it difficult to read this book due to Makili-Aliyev’s almost militantly pro-Azerbaijani and pro-U.S. politics and opinions. The book is less a legal analysis and more a polemic against Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenians, which I suppose is not all that surprising, considering he worked for the Azerbaijani Ministry if Defense!
Great idea – terrible book.