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Armenia Wants a UN Court to Impose Measures Aimed at Protecting Rights of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians

Armenia urged the United Nations top court on Thursday to impose new interim orders on Azerbaijan to prevent what the leader of Armenia’s legal team called the “ethnic cleansing” of the Nagorno-Karabakh region from becoming irreversible.

Armenia asked judges at the International Court of Justice for 10 “provisional measures” aimed at protecting the rights of ethnic Armenians from the Nagorno-Karabakh region that Azerbaijan reclaimed last month following a swift military operation.

Azerbaijan’s legal team strenuously denied the allegations.

“Azerbaijan has not engaged and will not engage in ethnic cleansing or any form of attack on the civilian population of Karabakh,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov.

“The Armenian residents of Karabakh are citizens of Azerbaijan, and their human rights are protected and upheld on an equal basis with those of Azerbaijan’s other citizens,” he added.

In a 24-hour campaign that began on Sept. 19, the Azerbaijan army routed the region’s undermanned and outgunned Armenian forces, forcing them to capitulate. The separatist government then agreed to disband itself by the end of the year. More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians fled Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Nothing other than targeted and unequivocal provisional measures protecting the rights of ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will suffice to prevent the ethnic cleansing Azerbaijan is perpetrating from continuing and becoming irreversible,” the head of Armenia’s legal team, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, told judges.

After six years of separatist fighting ended in 1994 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia.

Azerbaijan took back parts of the region in the south Caucasus Mountains during a six-week war in 2020, along with surrounding territory that Armenian forces had claimed earlier. Nagorno-Karabakh was internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory.

The world court is currently considering two cases focused on the deep-rooted tensions between the two countries. Armenia filed a case in 2021 accusing Azerbaijan of breaching an international convention aimed at preventing racial discrimination. A week later, Azerbaijan filed its own case, accusing Armenia of contravening the same convention.

The court has already issued so-called “provisional measure” rulings in both cases. The measures are intended to protect the rights of both nations and their nationals as their cases slowly progress through the world court.

Armenia on Thursday accused Azerbaijan of driving Armenians out of Nagorno-Karabakh even as the legal wrangling continues.

“It is still possible to change how this story unfolds,” said Alison Macdonald, a lawyer for Armenia. “The ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh is happening as we speak. It must not be allowed to set in stone.”

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has said that the departure of Armenians was “their personal and individual decision and has nothing to do with forced relocation.”

Mammadov, Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister, used the court hearing to outline commitments by Azerbaijan including a pledge to protect the rights of all residents in Karabakh regardless of nationality or ethnic origin and to provide food, medicines, fuel, electricity and other humanitarian aid.

He also said Azerbaijan was committed to protecting property in the region including the homes of people who left and not to destroy “registration, identity and or private property documents and records found in Karabakh.”

The court is likely to take weeks to issue a decision on Armenia’s request.

Source : ABC News