Armenia commences proceedings against Azerbaijan over persecution and rights violations

JURIST
Sept 19 2021

The Republic of Armenia on Thursday instituted proceedings against the Republic of Azerbaijan at the International Court of Justice, the United Nation’s top judicial organ, over alleged violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by Azerbaijani authorities.

In its application, Armenia contended that “for decades, Azerbaijan has subjected Armenians to racial discrimination” and that as a result of such State-sponsored of Armenian hatred, Armenians have been subjected to systemic discrimination, mass killings, torture and other abuse. Armenia also alleged that these violations were directed at individuals of Armenian ethnic or national origin regardless of their actual nationality.

Armenia further claimed that such practices came into action following Azerbaijan’s aggression against the Republic of Artsakh and Armenia in September 2020, during which Azerbaijan committed grave violations of the ICERD. It also contended that even after the end of hostilities, following a ceasefire which entered into effect on 10 November 2020, “Azerbaijan continued to engage in the murder, torture and other abuse of Armenian prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons”, and that Azerbaijan has continued to systematically destroy, erase and falsify Armenian cultural heritage in the region.

Through its application, the Republic of Armenia has requested the Court to take provisional measures “as a matter of extreme urgency” in order to “protect and preserve Armenia’s rights and the rights of Armenians from further harm, and to prevent the aggravation or extension of this dispute” until it is able to decide the dispute in the merits. This includes measures such as the return of all release immediately all Armenian prisoners of war and
hostages, measures to protect Armenian culture and dignity and an order to close the Military Trophies Park, which has been heavily criticized as an crude means of depicting Azerbaijan’s victory. Under Article 74 of the Rules of Court, “A request for the indication of provisional measures shall have priority over all other cases”.

The present dispute comes as a result of a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 2020, following a six-week war that claimed more than 6,500 lives. The ceasefire was largely considered as a victory for Azerbaijan, as it gave theformerly Armenian-occupied territory back to Azerbaijan. The region had been a territory under dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the early 1990’s, owing to the fact that it was located within Azerbaijan but made up of a majority Armenian ethnicity population.

In a Communique, the Azerbaijani ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that it would launch its own legal proceedings against Armenia in relation to Armenian’s own systematic violations of CERD.

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS