On 7 December 2021, the International Court of Justice delivered its orders on the requests for provisional measures made by Armenia and Azerbaijan in the proceedings instituted against one another under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (the “CERD”).
The decisions reflect the Court’s acceptance of numerous critical arguments raised by Armenia in its request of 16 September 2021 and during the October 14-19 public sittings, and a validation of Armenia’s positions before the Court.
In its request for provisional measures, Armenia presented evidence of Azerbaijan’s racially motivated murder and torture of Armenian prisoners of war and other detainees, as well as of its ongoing campaign of racial hatred of Armenians and destruction of Armenian cultural heritage.
In respect of Armenia’s request for the indication of provisional measures, the Court found that there was an imminent risk of irreparable harm to Armenians’ rights under the CERD, and ordered Azerbaijan to:
(1) “Protect from violence and bodily harm all persons captured in relation to the 2020 Conflict who remain in detention, and ensure their security and equality before the law”;
(2) “Take all necessary measures to prevent the incitement and promotion of racial hatred and discrimination, including by its officials and public institutions, targeted at persons of Armenian national or ethnic origin”; and
(3) “Take all necessary measures to prevent and punish acts of vandalism and desecration affecting Armenian cultural heritage, including but not limited to churches and other places of worship, monuments, landmarks, cemeteries and artefacts”.
Importantly, the Court also noted Azerbaijan’s official representation, at the oral hearing on Armenia’s request for provisional measures, that the mannequins depicting Armenian soldiers and displays of helmets worn by Armenian soldiers during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War have been permanently removed from the so-called “Military Trophies Park” and will not be shown in the future.
By rejecting the vast majority of requests made by Azerbaijan in its own request for provisional measures, among other things, the Court found that “Azerbaijan has not placed before the Court evidence indicating that Armenia’s alleged conduct with respect to landmines has ‘the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing’, of rights of persons of Azerbaijani national or ethnic origin.” Moreover, while the Court did order Armenia to “take all necessary measures to prevent the incitement and promotion of racial hatred, including by organizations and private persons”, in contrast to a similar provisional measure adopted against Azerbaijan, the Court upheld Armenia’s argument that anti-Armenian rhetoric originates and is espoused at the official level in Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile in both decisions, the Court has ordered the parties to “refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.” In this regard, the Armenian side has repeatedly noted that the consistent Armenophobic rhetoric blatantly espoused by the highest leadership of Azerbaijan, the inhumane treatment of Armenians subject to Azerbaijan’s control or jurisdiction, and the destruction and desecration of the Armenian cultural and religious heritage stand as insurmountable obstacles to the de-escalation of the situation in the region and peaceful development. The Court’s orders on provisional measures recognize these realities and create binding legal obligations under international law to confront them.
Armenia will accordingly monitor Azerbaijan’s compliance with the Court’s orders, and will inform the Court of any violations as Armenia’s case against Azerbaijan proceeds.
The full text of the Court Order on the Request for the indication of provisional measures made by the Republic of Armenia in the case concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Armenia v. Azerbaijan) is available at the following link https://www.icj-cij.org/public/files/case-related/180/180-20211207-ORD-01-00-EN.pdf. The Court Order on the Request for the indication of provisional measures made by the Republic of Azerbaijan in the case Azerbaijan v. Armenia – https://www.icj-cij.org/public/files/case-related/181/181-20211207-ORD-01-00-EN.pdf.