The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention released a statement this week, expressing its outrage at Azerbaijan for its blatant disregard for the binding International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision on provisional measures issued on February 22, 2023, which ordered Azerbaijan to ensure free movement of goods and people through the Lachin Corridor.
The group’s statement follows:
Azerbaijan has failed to comply with this order despite the fact that it has accepted ICJ jurisdiction in the 2021 case on the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Armenia v. Azerbaijan) and it has been a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination since 1996. The Lemkin Institute is equally concerned with the lack of support from the international community in enforcing ICJ’s decisions with viable mechanisms. The voluntary nature of international law renders it inept when a state decides not to implement the decisions of international tribunals. The Lemkin Institute strongly advocates for more forceful vehicles to implement those decisions and believes it is in the interest of all states to do so.
On February 22nd, the ICJ issued a decision stating that Azerbaijan shall “take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.” The February 22nd decision comes after the ICJ issued provisional measures in that same case, on December 7, 2021, ordering Azerbaijan to “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; 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 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.”
Several weeks later, Azerbaijan has not only still not complied with the Feb 22nd, 2023, order, but has also launched new military actions in addition to remaining in violation of the orders issued from December 2021 until today. The Lemkin Institute reiterates that ICJ decisions are binding on the parties in a given case, which means that any order the ICJ issues in the case of Armenia v. Azerbaijan is binding on both parties. This means that both Azerbaijan and Armenia must comply with ICJ orders in light with treaties and agreements both sides have agreed to under international law. Thus, Azerbaijan’s noncompliance with the ICJ provisional measures is a blatant violation of international law and a flagrant ignorance of Azerbaijan’s international obligations.
There have been very little efforts made by the international community to compel Azerbaijan to lift the blockade in the month since the ICJ order. The most high profile statement made was by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the previous Secretary-General of NATO, who expressed his dismay at the ongoing blockade and warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe,” but did not offer much else. The EU international mission charged with monitoring the Lachin Corridor, which has been protested by Azerbaijan, likewise has proved incapable so far of effectively changing the situation, thus far having released only statements that they will report their findings back to Brussels. The EU’s South Caucasus envoy, Toivo Klaar, continues his shameful effort to play both sides of the issue.