On 20 February 2017, a national referendum on a new draft Constitution was held in the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh Republic). The turnout has been 76, 44 per cent of the registered voters, of which 87, 6 per cent supported the adoption of the new Constitution. Around 100 international observers from 30 countries monitored the voting process and positively assessed the organization and conduct of the referendum noting their transparency and compliance with international standards.
The new Constitution is to continue the traditions of state building enshrined in the first constitution, further strengthen the sovereignty of the country, and promote human rights and the rule of law, to improve public administration, enroot the independent judiciary and reform the local self-government. A key innovation was the increase of direct participation of citizens in public affairs by providing them with the right to legislative initiative, as well as on proposing amendments to the Constitution.
The referendum on 20 February has become another act of expression of will by the people of Artsakh, in exercising their right to determine their own future, as enshrined in fundamental international documents.
The attempts of Baku to suppress by all means, including military, this inherent right of the people of Artsakh, lead to the outbreak of the armed conflict. It remains a major source of persistent tension in the region and the reason for the lack of progress in the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.
The democratic development of Artsakh's statehood is an irreversible process. Reluctance of Azerbaijan to recognize this fact through denial of the right to self-determination realized by the people of Artsakh is an attempt to return to the past, which is doomed to failure.