UN Security Council meeting in 1993. Wikicommons.

French ambassador to the United Nations Jean-Bernard Mérimée played a key role in developing the final wording of the United Nations’ Security Council resolution 822 dealing with Karabakh, according to the State Department cable prepared in April 1993. The cable is among the documents dealing with the Karabakh conflict and recently published by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The resolution drafted by U.S. diplomats and presented by then permanent representative at the UN Madeleine Albright initially referred to “Armenian forces” as occupying the Kelbajar district located between Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia proper.

According to the document “Amb. Mérimée (France) asserted that the language being suggested by, inter alia, the U.S., was too specific in view of the limited information Council members had about the situation.” The French envoy further suggested treating the Armenian capture of Kelbajar not under the UN chapter VII as an “act of aggression,” but chapter VI as a dispute that should be settled peacefully. The Resolution 822 adopted on April 30, 1993 referred to the “local Armenian forces.”

It is unclear to what extent the French diplomat may have been influenced by any contacts with Armenian diplomats or lobbyists. In 2005, Mérimée was charged in relation to the UN’s Oil-for-Food program dealing with Iraq. Among others involved, was Benon Sevan, a Cypriot Armenian who was the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs in the early 1990s. In 2016, Mérimée was sentenced to a fine of 50,000 Euros in the matter. Sevan, who denied charges against him, was never convicted.