Statement of Condemnation of Azerbaijan's Actions that Undermine International Law and Institutions

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Legal experts raise the alarm about Azerbaijan’s actions, which threaten the rule of law and respect for human rights.

We, the undersigned professors of law, bar associations, and organizations dedicated to upholding the principles of the rule of law, human rights, international humanitarian law, and the authority of international institutions, express our profound concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s prolonged blockade of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).  This blockade has led to severe shortages of essential supplies, such as food and medicine, the separation of families, and an unfolding humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions.  Notably, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, has recently concluded in a report that “[t]here is a reasonable basis to believe that a genocide is being committed.”

Of particular concern is Azerbaijan’s persistent disregard for the rulings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.  The ICJ has, on two occasions in the last seven months, ordered Azerbaijan to take all necessary measures to ensure the unrestricted movement of people, vehicles, and cargo to Nagorno-Karabakh.  Numerous nations and the Secretary-General of the United Nations have called upon Azerbaijan to comply with the ICJ’s orders.  Regrettably, Azerbaijan continually ignores its international legal obligations. 

Azerbaijan not only defies the ICJ’s orders but also obstructs the humanitarian efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  Persons transported to and from Nagorno-Karabakh under the ICRC’s protection have been detained, striking at the very foundation of trust upon which the ICRC operates.  The ICRC’s fundamental mission depends on civilian trust in its ability to ensure their safety during humanitarian transport.  Azerbaijan’s arbitrary detention of individuals transported by the ICRC, without consequences, jeopardizes the organization’s operations, both now and in the future, worldwide.

Since 2020, Azerbaijan has consistently ignored orders and appeals from international organizations.  This includes disregarding UNESCO’s requests to send a fact-finding mission to the region and neglecting the findings of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which was critical of Azerbaijan’s treatment of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.  Rather than complying with its international obligations toward ethnic Armenians, Azerbaijan has chosen to target civilians militarily and impose blockades and deprivation, thereby undermining the credibility of international law and the institutions that uphold it.

Azerbaijan’s shelling of Armenian civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh and its ongoing blockade of the population in defiance of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and various international institutions should be deeply disturbing to everyone in the international legal community. Left unaddressed, these violations set a dangerous precedent, potentially emboldening other states to similarly target civilian populations.

We urgently call upon the global community to take immediate and decisive action to address this alarming situation and protect the fundamental principles upon which international law and human rights depend. 

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2024 International Law Symposium: Call for Papers

The humanitarian crisis for the ethnic Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) [as a result of Azerbaijan’s complete military encirclement, months-long blockade, and, ultimately, the entire Armenian population’s forced migration out of Nagorno-Karabakh] raise oft-ignored questions about the universality and effectiveness of non-derogable international human rights norms. This Call for Papers seeks submissions of abstracts for papers exploring the relationship between human rights and unrecognized or partially recognized States (viz, countries), particularly in connection with the live issues in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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