Will Yerevan sue Aliyev at the ICC? No answers yet
Will Armenia sue Aliyev?
“Continued aggressions against the Republic of Armenia and occupation of our sovereign territories, heinous atrocity crimes perpetrated against Armenians, ethnic cleansing of Nagorno Karabakh, as a result of which over 100.000 Armenians had to escape their homes to find shelter in Armenia, had devastating humanitarian consequences and continue to pose imminent risks for our region…
In this context, we are convinced that the Rome Statute among other mechanisms has real potential to prevent any further escalation and atrocities, becoming a milestone towards stability and sustainable peace in our region,” stated the head of the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
In response, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizade declared that “Armenia’s accession to the Rome Statute is an attempt to exploit this institution for its baseless claims, hostile actions, propagation of hatred, dissemination of misinformation, and misinterpretation of international law.”
Armenia became the 124th country to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. On February 1, Armenia officially became a full member of the ICC, marked by a solemn ceremony held the day before.
The Rome Statute is the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court. Its creation was explained by the need for an independent court to resolve cases related to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Armenian authorities assert that by joining the ICC, they aim to hold Azerbaijan accountable for war crimes. At the expert level, there is also discussion about the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Azerbaijan at the ICC for the displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh. Tensions regarding Armenia’s accession to the ICC are also observed in Moscow. This is because the court previously issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. All countries that ratify the treaty are obligated to hand over such individuals to the court if they are located on their territory.
Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia at the ICC, discussions in the Armenian parliament, and expert opinions.
“The role of the ICC in ensuring fair and impartial justice cannot be overstated”
In his speech, Ararat Mirzoyan emphasized that the Rome Statute is aimed at eradicating the most serious crimes and impunity:
“The International Criminal Court stands as a bastion against the horrors of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. In this regard, Armenia’s consistent cooperative approach to the ICC is based on the following major objectives:
1) preventing the most serious crimes which are of concern to the international community as a whole,
2) strengthening the rule of law in the international community,
3) achieving more universality of the ICC”.
According to him, the International Criminal Court serves as a bulwark in the fight against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression.
Mirzoyan stated that the role of the ICC in preventing crime and ensuring impartial justice for the peaceful resolution of conflicts cannot be overstated.
“Unfortunately, in our region, we were confronted not only by complete unwillingness to resolve the issue by peaceful means but also with a clear intent to proliferate war, hatred and terror.”
However, he stated that the Rome Statute has real potential to prevent “further escalation and atrocities” and can contribute to stability and sustainable peace in the region:
“We highlight the Court’s important role for delivering justice to victims of unimaginable atrocities, giving them a voice by enabling them to participate in its proceedings, providing assistance and awarding reparations.”
The minister assured that Armenia will be an active member of the court.
Against whom will Armenia file a lawsuit?
Deputies from the ruling Civil Contract faction informed reporters that lawsuits are already being prepared. Will a lawsuit against Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev be submitted to the ICC? They did not answer this question and urged contacting the Ministry of Justice.
According to the secretary of the ruling faction, Arthur Hovhannisyan, their political goal “is not formulated against any person or entity.”
“The Republic of Armenia has set itself the goal of taking action on all crimes committed. Which entity will be held accountable as a result of these steps is already a legal question,” he explained.
Earlier, the question of the likelihood of bringing the president of Azerbaijan to justice through the ICC was also raised by opposition deputies. Minister of Justice Grigor Minasyan also did not openly answer:
“Ratification of such documents forces the government to act in accordance with international principles. If the presence of guilt is recorded, there will be responsibility.”
According to international law specialist Ara Khzmalyan, the Rome Statute is another tool to increase pressure on Baku. Unlike previous trials, in this case, the focus is on holding specific individuals criminally accountable.
“Individuals who are responsible, at least for crimes committed on the territory of Armenia, particularly military aggression and ongoing occupation, can be held internationally accountable,” he emphasized.
He also addressed the question of whether it is possible to bring the president of Azerbaijan to justice.
The expert stated that theoretically, Aliyev could be held accountable.
“In practice, the likelihood of apprehending a head of state and bringing them to trial is very slim. However, at the very least, this possibility could significantly constrain their international travels. Moreover, the prospect of facing criminal charges is highly undesirable for the reputation of a country’s leader.”
Khzmalyan disagrees with the prevalent notion that trials yield nothing for Armenia, as Azerbaijan, regardless, fails to adhere to the resultant decisions. He contends that they remain a tool of pressure and also help keep several crucial issues on the agenda, such as the repatriation of Armenian prisoners of war detained in Baku.
Will Armenia sue Aliyev?