Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award Final, Binding and Still Valid, Scholars Say

WASHINGTON (Armenian Weekly)—On November 16, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) hosted an event on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Woodrow Wilson Arbitral Award, at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington.

The event featured two speakers. Ara Papian, the head of the Modus Vivendi Research Center, who has served as ambassador of Armenia to Canada and as spokesperson for the Armenian Foreign Ministry, and Dikran Kaligian, who has taught history at Clark University, and Regis, Westfield State, and Wheaton colleges, and is the managing editor of the Armenian Review.

Following a cocktail hour, accompanied by Arpa Vartanian on the piano, the executive director of the ANCA, Aram Hamparian, introduced the guests. Among them were representatives of the Embassy of Armenia, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshal Evans, as well as Virginia State Senator Patsy Ticer, Donald Wilson Bush, a member of the Wilson family and founder of the Woodrow Wilson Legacy Foundation, as well as representatives from the community and various offices and organizations, including the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Armenian Relief Society, and Hamazkayin and the Armenian Youth Federation.

His Eminence, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States, offered his prayers. “President Wilson holds a special place in the history of the Armenian people… He was our voice when we were unable to speak. And now we are proud to be his voice in promoting his ideals of freedom, justice, peace, and democracy. We are especially mindful and thankful for the unprecedented American assistance that rescued the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, many of whom were later welcomed in the United States of America,” said Choloyan.

About 90 years ago, on Nov. 22, 1920, at the request of the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers, President Wilson issued an Arbitral Award, under the Presidential Seal, to establish a Turkey-Armenia boundary pursuant to the Treaty of Sevres. Through this legal document, Armenia was granted the provinces of Van, Bitlis, Erzurum, and Trabzon.

A historian and diplomat, Papian spoke about the legal and historical background of the Arbitral Award. “It can be declared confidently, the Arbitral Award of Woodrow Wilson is still valid and legally obligatory document, because the indispensable feature of an Arbitral Award is that it produces an award that is final and binding. By agreeing to submit the dispute to arbitration, i.e. signing a compromise, the parties, in advance, agree to accept the decision… It is obligatory, also, for the United States, not only by virtue of the fact that the arbitrator was the United States President, but primarily because it was sealed in the great seal of the United States, thus it became part of the land of this country.”

Turkish presence over there is nothing more than an administrative control like the Turkish status over northern Cyprus,” said Papian. “Thus the presence and all acts taken by the Turkish Republic in Wilsonian Armenia are illegal and invalid because the belligerent occupation does not yield lawful rule over a territory.”

The Arbitral Award, which is titled “Decision of the President of the United States of America respecting the Frontier between Turkey and Armenia, Access for Armenia to the Sea, and the Demilitarization of Turkish Territory adjacent to the Armenian Frontier,” was never revoked or altered. According to Papian, it remains in force under U.S. and international law.

Kaligian, who is the author of Armenian Organization and Ideology under Ottoman Rule, 1908-1914, spoke about the history of President Wilson and the Arbitral Award, and of its contemporary significance.

“Woodrow Wilson, when he wrote to the Allied Powers, in March of 1920…stated, ‘The government of the United States is convinced that the civilized world demands Armenia’s boundaries should be drawn in such a way as to recognize all the legitimate claims of the Armenian people, and particularly to give them easy and unencumbered access to the sea,’” said Kaligian. “So the issue of boundaries, the issue of doing right, the issue of justice for the Armenian people was a key part of these peace negotiations… When President Wilson made his Arbitral Award, he was in essence awarding Armenia reparations for its losses in lives, and properties, and lands. Reparations and return of lands were an integral part of what Woodrow Wilson recognized as a civilized world’s obligation to Armenia—an integral part of justice for the great crime against humanity…”

Kaligian concluded his remarks with these impassioned words: “It is only justice when [the Armenian people] receive their lost properties, and farms, and businesses, and wealth, because the Turkish Republic was built on Armenian blood, and Armenian sweat, and Armenian labor. We will only live up to President Woodrow Wilson’s ideals when Turkey is no longer able to profit from the atrocities of Turkish governments. We will only realize President Wilson’s vision when Armenia is restored to what it once was—a home that can house all the Armenian people—with defensible borders, and the ability to feed itself, and the ability to thrive. We will only fulfill Woodrow Wilson’s legacy when Armenia is not just free, is not just independent, but is also united. Hayasdan miyatsyal azad yev angakh [Armenia, united free and independent].”

ANCA chairman Ken Hachikian offered closing remarks. “Real peace can only be built upon justice. And it is a very simple concept, but one which world leaders frequently forget. Frequently there is a drive for peace, and ultimately one asks the question, ‘peace at what cost’? Ultimately unless peace comes with justice, unless the foundation of that peace is based upon fairness, on the principles of justice, on reparations, appropriate compensation to the victims, then there ultimately cannot be peace,” he said.

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

6 Comments

  1. Mariamjon said:

    Wood Wilson might of cared……….President Obama would like to act like he doesn’t know
    what an Armenian is. Let’s see who cares that the award is binding and still final. God help
    the men and women involved in trying to have someone give a damn……….The USA doesn’t care.

  2. manooshag said:

    Well, the turks certainly remember President Woodrow Wilson… enough to spend monies to ‘assault’ the memorium created for him by the citizens of the USA… for his efforts for the horrors of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… too, the Sevres Treaty, as well. Imagine, his memorial site, in Washington DC, on lands of our United States of America, the bully turkeys have the gall to desecrate our President Woodrow Wilson memorial site (and too, it appears the Smithsonian Museum as well). Imagine! If the USA had taken such steps against the heroes of the turkeys… actually the planners and perpetrators of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… would the turkeys quietly accept such actions – without any repercussions? For our White House, and of course, our USA State Department
    (who are the defenders of a turkeys Genocidal forays over years) and too, the USA media ALL have not made mention of the bully turkey’s attack demeaning our President Woodrow Wilson’s memorial site!!
    Manooshag

  3. manooshag said:

    Well, the turks certainly remember President Woodrow Wilson… enough to spend monies to ‘assault’ the memorium created for him by our citizens of the USA… for his efforts for the horrors of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… too, the Sevres Treaty, as well. Imagine, his memorial site, in Washington DC, on lands of our United States of America, the bully turkeys have the gall to desecrate our President Woodrow Wilson memorial site (and too, it appears the Smithsonian Museum as well). Imagine! If the USA had taken such steps against the heroes of the turkeys… actually the planners and perpetrators of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… would the turkeys quietly accept such actions – without any repercussions? For our White House, and of course, our USA State Department
    (who are the defenders of a turkeys Genocidal forays over years) and too, the USA media ALL have not made mention of the bully turkey’s attack demeaning our President Woodrow Wilson’s memorial site!!
    Manooshag

  4. Taron said:

    For those who don’t care, one way to make them care is to make them pay through their nose. Armenians all over the world need more lawyers. I say take everyone to international court. Those who deny the genocide and are causing the Armenian people harm on a daily basis should be charged criminally as accessories to crime and obstruction of justice. Take everyone to court. Turkey, Europe, and especially the USA.

    For the past 100 years, the world was in a conspiracy to appease the Turks and neglect Armenians intentionally. Now I say instead of making them “recognize” the genocide, put them in court permanently until justice is served. The amount of damage Armenia and Armenians have suffered, I believe has enough litigation potential for the next one thousand years.

  5. Stephen T. Dulgarian said:

    The time has come for the Armenian Government to bring up to the United Nations the rights of the Armenian Nation and that is the legality of the Sevres Treaty signed by Armenia, Turkey, and 16 other nations in August of 1920. These Provences held by Turkey must be rightfully returned and United with the now Indendent Armenian Republic along with reparations, just as Germany made reparations to the Jewish People.

*

Top