By: Katy Simonian
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) will bestow the Champions of International Justice Award to the brave legal team that represented the Republic of Armenia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The team of 23 legal advisors, counsels and advocates will be recognized for their tireless efforts to speak truth to power and combat the oppressive wave of misinformation waged against Armenia in the aftermath of the 44 Day War in Artsakh.
Accepting the award on behalf of the team, are three members whose extraordinary work stands as an inspiring example for future generations in the pursuit of justice for the Armenian Nation. Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Levon Gevorgyan, Karnig Kerkonian and their exceptional colleagues, will be honored at the 2022 ANCA-WR Awards Gala, which will be held on Sunday, September 25 at The Beverly Hilton.
The case of the Republic of Armenia vs. Azerbaijan was brought before the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, in October 2021. Members of the legal team called upon on the tribunal to “protect and preserve Armenia’s rights and the rights of Armenians from further harm” citing the urgency of international intervention for the sake of Armenia’s security. The team argued that Azerbaijan violated the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination (CERD). Following a counter-claim by Azerbaijan that sought to justify its unprovoked violence against Armenians, the court reached a decision urging both parties to show restraint to promote the peace process, while ultimately recognizing the abuses of Azeri aggression in accordance with Armenia’s request for measures of protection.
On the decision published by the ICJ, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, who serves as Advisor to the Prime Minister and Representative of Armenia at the European Court of Human Rights, praised the court for granting provisions that recognized Armenia’s sovereignty. “The court granted almost all the provisional measures requested by Armenia against Azerbaijan and rejected most of the measures requested by Azerbaijan,” he said. “Armenia welcomes the decision of the court and hopes that Azerbaijan and its high-ranking officials will ensure the practical implementation of this decision,” he added, reflecting on the need for continued oversight to ensure justice is served.
When asked about the possibility of peaceful coexistence for displaced Armenians returning to Artsakh in the aftermath of the war, Levon Gevorgyan, who serves as a Professor of Law at American University of Yerevan, emphasizes the need for the accountability of those who waged war against innocent civilians in Artsakh. “Coexistence is impossible until all the war criminals, all the officials propagating discrimination are brought to justice, and until the state accepts it,” said Gevorgyan. “The international recognition of Arstakh should be a priority for Armenia, at least within the borders that made up the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region in Soviet times. Only after that can we talk about a safe return,” he added.
The need to pursue justice for both Armenia and Artsakh is a matter of deep significance for Karnig Kerkonian, a founding partner of Kerkonian Dajani LLP and Board Member of the Armenian Society of Fellows. “As Armenians, we must have an understanding of the pillars of our national identity. The issue of ethnic cleansing was front and center during the Artsakh War. I feel as though we were all on the same page, understanding that our survival as an Armenian Nation is connected to the independence and self-determination of the Artsakh Armenians,” said Kerkonian. “The issues of promoting Armenia’s economic development and protecting the rights of Armenians in Artsakh are not mutually exclusive. They are linked and crucial to our sense of identity as Armenians,” he added.
The need for thoughtful legal representation is a critical component of Armenia’s national security.
“The ANCA-WR salutes the entire legal team representing the Republic of Armenia, with grateful hearts, as we stand in awe of their devotion to truth, justice, and the prevention of future crimes against humanity,” said ANCA-WR Chair, Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “It is vital that our national efforts for self-determination and justice for Artsakh, preservation of Armenia’s sovereignty, return of all POW’s, protection of cultural heritage and combatting Armenophobia be pursued in every available forum, and favorable legal rulings will only strengthen our standing on the international stage,” she added.
The bravery of this dedicated legal team continues to make an impact as Armenians from around the world appreciate their commitment to seeking justice for the courageous men and women on the frontlines who continue to defend Armenia. By representing Armenia in the wake of the war, they educate the international community on the importance of safeguarding Armenia’s sovereignty and democratic future, and advocate for the international recognition of the Republic of Artsakh.
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. Pierre d’Argent, Mr. Lawrence H. Martin, Mr. Constantinos Salonidis, Ms. Diana Tsutieva, Mr. Joseph Klingler, Mr. Peter Tzeng, Ms. Natalia Tchoukleva, Ms. Yasmin Al-Ameen, Ms. Nour Nicolas, H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, H.E. Mr. Andranik Hovhannisyan, Mr. Liparit Drmeyan, Ms. Kristine Khanazadyan, Ms. Marta Ayvazyan, Mr. Igor Mirzakhanyan, Mr. Aram Aramyan, Mr. Levon Gevorgyan, Ms. Zoya Stepanyan, Ms. Sheila Paylan, and Mr. Karnig Kerkonian.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan 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 in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
For more information about Armenia’s Legal Team at the International Court of Justice, as well as the 2022 ANCA-WR Gala, please visit https://ancawr.org/anca-press-releases/. To purchase 2022 ANCA-WR Awards Gala tickets, please visit ancawr.org/gala2022tickets.
Katy Simonian is a member of the 2022 ANCA-WR Gala Committee.