Armenia vs Azerbaijan: Hearings at the UN International Court of Justice
For two days in a row, on October 14-15, the UN International Court of Justice considered the demand for the application of urgent measures in the Armenia vs Azerbaijan lawsuit. Yerevan presented a demand that, prior to the consideration of the main claim, Azerbaijan should release the Armenian prisoners of war and held civilians, close the trophy park in Baku, stop inciting hatred and facts of vandalism against the Armenian historical and cultural heritage.
Armenia filed a lawsuit against Azerbaijan to the UN International Court of Justice for violation of six articles of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on September 16. The plaintiff states that “Azerbaijan has subjected Armenians to racial discrimination for decades. During this time, the Armenians were subjected to systemic discrimination, massacres, torture and other humiliations”.
Azerbaijan stated that it would “resolutely defend itself” and submitted a counterclaim to the Hague Court.
The interests of Armenia in the UN International Court of Justice are represented by lawyer Yeghishe Kirakosyan. He is the representative of Armenia at the European Court of Human Rights. A group of international experts will protect the country’s interests. They have already presented to the Hague Court the main provisions of the urgent action requirements.
Accusations and demands of the Armenian side refuted by the Azerbaijani side.
Prisoners of war
Lawyers representing Armenia claim that the lawsuit contains ample evidence of torture and humiliation of the dignity of Armenian prisoners in Azerbaijan.
One of the members of the expert group, Sean Murphy, said in court that even after the end of the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan continues to keep Armenian prisoners of war. He pointed out that Azerbaijan was obliged to return them both in accordance with international humanitarian norms and in accordance with a tripartite statement signed by President Aliyev in the fall of 2020.
The expert on international law assessed the failure to fulfill obligations to return the prisoners as “a manifestation of ethnic discrimination”.
Sean Murphy emphasized that the Armenian side provided the court with facts both about 45 prisoners, the content of which Azerbaijan confirms, and a full evidence base about those whose detention is not recognized.
He recalled that the Azerbaijani special forces captured Armenian soldiers in December last year near the villages of Khin Tager and Khtsaberd, although, according to a trilateral statement, “the Armenian side had no obligation to leave these two villages”.
The speaker presented to the judges evidence of torture of Armenian prisoners in Baku, spoke about publications proving that prisoners of war and held civilians were burned and tortured with electricity.
The lawyer presented to the court the video recordings of the murders and ill-treatment of Armenian prisoners. Some of them were disseminated on social networks by the servicemen of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces themselves.
“Today you can hear that all these prisoners of war are criminals, and their detention has nothing to do with ethnic cleansing [talks about the Azerbaijani objections expected after the statements of the Armenian side – JAMnews], while the facts testify specifically to ethnic cleansing.” , – said the expert.
Lawyers representing the interests of Armenia stressed that Azerbaijan is destroying Armenian cultural and religious monuments.
International law expert and legal adviser Pierre D’Arzhan, in particular, focused on the shelling of the Kazanchetsots cathedral during the 44-day war – twice a day:
“Armenians cannot feel safe in Nagorno-Karabakh, including in places sacred to them.”
According to the lawyer, although President Aliyev declared in September from the UN rostrum that Azerbaijan is a country of tolerance and peaceful coexistence for different peoples, the facts indicate the opposite:
“These facts show the real face of the ruling regime in Azerbaijan, a policy full of hatred, which is contrary to the convention.”
Another member of the expert group, Konstantinos Salonidis, stressed that the propaganda of hatred in Azerbaijan is carried out at the highest level and continues after the war. According to him, to be convinced of this, it is enough to listen to the speeches of President Aliyev.
The lawyer recalled the trophy park that opened in Baku in April 2021, where dummies of Armenian soldiers humiliating their dignity were displayed next to military equipment captured by the Azerbaijani side during the war.
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Waiting for a fair decision
According to Yeghishe Kirakosyan, representing the interests of Armenia in the International Court of Justice, the group of lawyers managed to present the country’s position in the best way – with weighty facts, arguments and an impeccable evidence base.
“We are confident in the validity of all our demands and expect a fair decision,” Yeghishe Kirakosyan said.
Speaking at the Hague Court, he said that the Armenians were subjected to terrible ordeals, including genocide and massacres:
“The armed conflict, which, as President Aliyev himself openly acknowledged, started Azerbaijan in September 2020, is the latest link in this chain of ethnic violence and hatred. We fear that this will continue until the root causes of this conflict are eliminated. ”
Baku refutes the claims
According to the court hearing procedure, Azerbaijan presented its counterarguments. The speaker from the Azerbaijani side, Peter Goldsmith, expressed the opinion that Armenia’s demands should be rejected, since “Azerbaijan has fulfilled its obligations under the trilateral statement”:
“There are a limited number of Armenians in Azerbaijan who are accused or convicted of grave crimes.”
Azerbaijani representative in this case, Elnur Mammadov, denied accusations of racial discrimination, stating that the arguments of the Armenian side are incorrect.
He stated that the court should reject the claim of Armenia, and quoted the words of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that “ensuring ethnic and cultural diversity, cultural compatibility is one of the priorities of Azerbaijan’s policy.”
Elnur Mammadov also assured that some exhibits were removed from the territory of the trophy park. Moreover, he told the court that official Baku had launched an investigation and indicted those Azerbaijani servicemen who are suspected of committing crimes against Armenians during the 44-day war.
The court in The Hague has completed preliminary hearings on the claim of the Armenian side. On October 18-19, hearings will be held on the claim of the Azerbaijani side, after which the UN International Court of Justice will sum up the results.
The decision of the Hague court on the application of an urgent measure on the claim of Armenia, lawyers are expected not earlier than in a month. Consideration of the main claim will take place later.