HomeTop StoriesArmenia and Azerbaijan clash before the UN Supreme Court

Armenia and Azerbaijan clash before the UN Supreme Court

Azerbaijan and Armenia will fight out a long-running dispute over “ethnic cleansing” at the United Nations’ highest court from Monday, just as military tensions between the historic foes rise.

Shrouded lawyers from the two countries begin two-week hearings, wrestling over interpretations of international law in the International Court of Justice’s gilded Peace Palace.

Meanwhile, the two exchanged accusations earlier this month of opening fire along their unstable shared border, clouding hopes for a lasting peace deal after decades of sporadic fighting.

The legal battle before the International Court of Justice dates back to September 2021, when both parties filed a lawsuit against each other within a week.

Both sides accused the other of “ethnic cleansing” and of violating the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The ICJ, which adjudicates in disputes between states, issued emergency orders in December 2021, calling on both sides to prevent incitement and promotion of racial hatred.

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But while the International Court of Justice’s orders are binding, it has no enforcement mechanism and tensions rose, culminating in Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory last September.

Baku retook Karabakh in the one-day offensive, prompting the enclave’s entire ethnic Armenian population (more than 100,000 people) to flee to Armenia.

Just weeks later, Armenia returned to the International Court of Justice, urging the court to order Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from Karabakh and allow Armenian refugees to return home safely.

In November, the court ordered Azerbaijan to allow anyone wishing to return to Karabakh to do so in a “safe, unhindered and expeditious manner.”

The final hearings in the marathon dispute begin Monday and run until April 26.

This concerns objections from both parties to each other’s original cases filed in September 2021.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have said a comprehensive peace deal is within reach after last year’s offensive in Karabakh.

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The former Soviet republics have fought two wars for control of the mountain region — most recently in 2020 and in the 1990s during the collapse of the Soviet Union — that have claimed thousands of lives on both sides and killed hundreds of thousands. to flee.

The conflict has also strained ties between Russia and former Soviet Armenia, with Yerevan believing Moscow did not do enough to help when the country was attacked.

In February, Armenia formally joined the International Criminal Court (ICC), despite a warning from Moscow against this measure.

It is now mandatory to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he sets foot on Armenian territory under an ICC arrest warrant issued against the Russian leader in March 2023.

ric/jhe/bc

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