Armenia Victorious at International Court of Justice as Azerbaijan is Ordered to End the Artsakh Blockade

February 23, 2023

(Los Angeles, California)—On February 22, 2023, on the 73rd day of the Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of Artsakh, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has granted preliminary measures to Armenia’s application and ordered Azerbaijan to take all measures to ensure the unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo along both directions of the Lachin corridor.

On December 12, 2022, in furtherance of Azerbaijan’s ongoing genocidal campaign to ethnically cleanse Artsakh of all Armenians, a group of State-sponsored Azerbaijani demonstrators claiming to be “eco-activists” blockaded the Lachin corridor: the only route between Nagorno-Karabakh and the outside world through Armenia. Since then, the corridor remains closed, preventing the entrance of life-sustaining food supply, medicine, and emergency vehicles, thereby deliberately creating a man-made humanitarian crisis. In an attempt to make life unsustainable for the innocent civilians of Artsakh, Azerbaijan has periodically cut gas and power supplies, leaving 120,000 Armenians in Artsakh without heat in freezing winter temperatures, resulting in the forced closure of schools and other institutions.

On December 28, 2022, Armenia’s legal team led by the Representative of Armenia on International Legal Matters, Dr. Yeghishe Kirakosyan, filed a request to the ICJ to cease Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of Artsakh and reopen the corridor to allow free access in and out. This request was based on numerous rights outlined in the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), namely, “the right to leave any country, including one’s own and to return to one’s country, including family reunification,” as well as “the right to public health, medical care, social security and social services”.

The legal team representing Armenia in the International Court of Justice was honored by the ANCA Western Region with its Champions of International Justice award at its 2022 Annual Gala. Dr. Yeghishe Kirakosyan and members of his legal team also participated in the 2022 Grassroots Conference where they gave an in-depth analysis of the various legal tools being utilized by the Republic of Armenia in its quest for justice against Azerbaijan for human rights violations inflicted upon both Armenia and Artsakh.

“We highly appreciate the relentless work of the legal team representing the Republic of Armenia at the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights in restoring justice for Armenia and Artsakh,” said ANCA-WR Board Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “The legal team led by H.E. Yeghishe Kirakosyan is acting as the first line of defense alongside the Armenian soldiers on the frontlines to defend our statehood and our nation against Azerbaijan’s never-ending genocidal campaign.”

In delivering its order earlier today, the International Court of Justice stated: “The Republic of Azerbaijan shall, pending the final decision in the case and in accordance with its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.”

“The Court observes that, since 12 December 2022, the connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia via the Lachin Corridor has been disrupted. The Court notes that a number of consequences have resulted from this situation and that the impact on those affected persists to this date,” the court said in reading its order.

“The information available to the Court indicates that the disruption on the Lachin Corridor has impeded the transfer of persons of Armenian national or ethnic origin hospitalized in Nagorno- Karabakh to medical facilities in Armenia for urgent medical care. The evidence also indicates that there have been hindrances to the importation into Nagorno-Karabakh of essential goods, causing shortages of food, medicine and other life-saving medical supplies,” added the ICJ.

“As the Court has noted previously, a prejudice can be considered as irreparable when the persons concerned are exposed to danger to health and life. The Court has further noted that restrictions on the importation and purchase of goods required for humanitarian needs, such as foodstuffs and medicines, including lifesaving medicines, treatment for chronic disease or preventive care, and medical equipment may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals,” the court noted.

The ICJ also referenced the responsibilities outlined in the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement, which compels Azerbaijan to ensure unimpeded movement along the Lachin Corridor, which is under the direct control of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Artsakh.

“The Court notes that the Statement by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and President of the Russian Federation of 9 November 2020 provides, inter alia, that the Lachin Corridor, “which will provide a connection between Nagorno- Karabakh and Armenia . . . shall remain under the control of the Russian Federation peacemaking forces.” The Statement further states that “Azerbaijan shall guarantee the security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions,” the ICJ affirmed.

In response to Armenia’s application, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov, asserted, “The acts complained of by Armenia do not constitute acts of racial discrimination as defined in Article 1 of CERD. Therefore, in its view, the rights claimed by the Applicant are not plausible.” Additionally, Azerbaijan claimed that since the start of the protests organized by “eco-activists” at the corridor, 1,000 vehicles have passed by the site, the demonstrations have not caused any interruptions in the area, and gas supply has not been cut as a deliberate act of hatred in the last 73 days, rather cuts and shortages are as a result of common disruptions during “harsh winter months.”

Azerbaijan had also filed a claim against Armenia, calling on the ICJ to impose provisional measures for the alleged planting of landmines by Armenia, which Azerbaijan said endangered the lives of its citizens.

The court unanimously rejected Azerbaijan’s request.

The court ordered the provisional measure with a 13-2 ruling, pending final decision.

The Republic of Armenia’s legal team at ICJ was represented by H.E. Mr. Yeghishe Kirakosyan (Armenia’s Agent in the cases deliberated at ICJ), Mr. Sean Murphy, Mr. Robert Kolb, Mr. Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, Mr. Pierre d’Argent, Mr. Lawrence H. Martin, Mr. Constantinos Salonidis, Mr. Joseph Klingler, Mr. Peter Tzeng, Ms Iulia Padeanu Mellon, Ms. Natalia Tchoukleva, Mr. Amir Ardelan Farhadi, Ms. Yasmin Al-Ameen, Mr. Harout Ekmanian, H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, H.E. Mr. Andranik Hovhannisyan, Mr. Liparit Drmeyan, Mr. Aram Aramyan, Ms. Kristine Khanazadyan, Mr. Armen Avagyan, Mr. Sergey Petrosyan, Mr. Arman Ghukasyan, Ms. Viviana Kalaejian, Mr. Levon Gevorgyan, Ms. Yara Zhu, Ms. Jennifer Schoppmann, and Ms. Deborah Langley.

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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