THE HAGUE (Reuters) — Judges at the World Court on Friday, November 17, ordered Azerbaijan to let ethnic Armenians who fled Nagorno-Karabakh in September return, and to keep the Armenians remaining in the enclave safe, as part of a set of emergency measures.
Azerbaijan in September recaptured the region, then controlled by its ethnic Armenian majority despite being internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
The lightning offensive, after decades of enmity between Baku and Yerevan and a nine-month blockade of essential supplies by Baku, prompted the mass exodus of most of the region’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians to neighboring Armenia.
Yerevan accused Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing and asked the International Court of Justice, as the World Court is formally known, to issue emergency measures aimed at protecting the rights of ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Azerbaijan must (…) ensure that persons who have left Nagorno-Karabakh after Sept. 19, 2023, and who wish to return to Nagorno-Karabakh are able to do so in a safe, unimpeded and expeditious manner,” presiding judge Joan Donoghue said.
The court said Azerbaijan must also make sure any ethnic Armenians still living in the enclave were “free from the use of force or intimidation that may cause them to flee” and ordered that Baku report to the court in two months to show what it was doing to comply with the order.