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NGOs Condemn Pashinyan's Plan to Withdraw Lawsuits Against Azerbaijan, Warning of Dire Consequences for Displaced Artsakh Residents' Rights

NGOs Condemn Pashinyan's Plan to Withdraw Lawsuits Against Azerbaijan, Warning of Dire Consequences for Displaced Artsakh Residents' Rights

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's statement regarding the withdrawal of lawsuits filed against Azerbaijan in international courts in the event of signing a peace treaty, may lead to the impossibility of protecting the rights of Armenians forcibly displaced from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). More than a dozen NGOs have noted this in a statement they issued. The statement continues as follows:

“The Network of CSOs for the Protection of the Rights of Forcibly Displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) rightly condemns Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's statement at the press conference on March 12 of this year suggesting the possibility of withdrawing Armenia's complaints against Azerbaijan in international courts and other structures in case of signing a peace treaty. Such a move could indeed have detrimental effects on the protection of the rights of forcibly displaced people from Nagorno-Karabakh prisoners of war, and other affected individuals, undermining Armenia's international legal efforts. Withdrawing interstate claims could weaken Armenia's legal position in international courts for both collective and individual rights, hindering the pursuit of justice and accountability.

These claims form the cornerstone for seeking collective justice for past violations, including war crimes and human rights abuses against Artsakh Armenians. They play a vital role in safeguarding the collective rights of the Artsakh people and enabling their collective return. They are indispensable for upholding their spiritual and cultural legacy, protecting public and private assets in Artsakh, and establishing international protection mechanisms to guarantee a safe and dignified life upon their return.

The submitted claims, addressing forced displacement of the population of Artsakh, deliberate killings and enforced disappearances of prisoners of war and civilians, torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, gross violations of the right to freedom, the right to a fair trial, the right to property, personal and respect for family life and other fundamental rights, serve as crucial means of protection against Azerbaijan.

The withdrawal would leave affected individuals without effective recourse, as demonstrated by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) acknowledgment of the lack of any protection means for Armenians in Azerbaijan. This move risks hindering accountability efforts and could nullify avenues for justice, especially considering potential missed opportunities for legal recourse due to passed deadlines for submitting individual complaints under the ECHR admissibility standards. Many victims refrained from submitting individual complaints in anticipation of justice through interstate complaints, potentially depriving them of avenues to seek justice and accountability through legal means. The withdrawal is likely to have adverse effects on existing individual lawsuits.

Prioritizing legal avenues, particularly through court decisions that offer concrete mechanisms for implementation, is crucial for seeking justice and redress, as they provide a more reliable framework for upholding the rights of those affected by ensuring accountability and offering genuine opportunities for remedying violations, unlike political processes.

From a human rights perspective, this action not only risks undermining the protection of rights for forcibly displaced individuals and other affected individuals from Nagorno-Karabakh but also sends a dangerous message that past atrocities will go unpunished. Such a stance could inadvertently legitimize Azerbaijan's hostile policies towards Armenians and pave the way for future gross violations, threatening to undermine efforts to ensure peace and stability.

The decision to withdraw claims against Azerbaijan could have far-reaching consequences, posing significant threats to the collective existence of the Republic of Armenia and its people. It may tarnish Armenia's reputation internationally, affecting perceptions of its commitment to upholding international law and justice, crucial for a democratic and rule of law state. This could hamper Armenia's ability to attract investment, foster economic growth, and engage effectively in diplomatic endeavors.

Furthermore, such a move could undermine Armenia's credibility in international diplomacy, hindering its capacity to advocate for its interests and potentially straining relationships with other countries and organizations.

In summary, withdrawing interstate claims against Azerbaijan involves multifaceted risks that extend beyond legal and diplomatic realms. In this light, the Government of the Republic of Armenia should unequivocally uphold its commitment to pursuing justice for the people of Artsakh by maintaining its interstate judicial complaints against Azerbaijan in both the European Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice. It is imperative to continue investing necessary resources and demonstrating due diligence in effectively presenting and defending these complaints. Furthermore, it is imperative to initiate new legal actions based on all relevant conventions, exploring avenues for seeking justice under the International Criminal Court. It is crucial to stand firm in seeking accountability and ensuring that past atrocities do not go unpunished.

The Network of CSOs for the Protection of the Rights of Forcibly Displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh

“Harmony” Shushi Women NGO

“Krunk” NGO for the Protection of the Rights of Artsakh Armenians

“Return to Kashatagh” NGO

“Return to Karvachar” NGO

“Return to Dizak” NGO

‘“Kumairi’ Artsakh Armenians” NGO

“De-Occupation of Shushi” NGO

“De-Occupation of Hadrut” NGO

“Askerantsiner” Community Development Center NGO

“Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Institute of Popular Diplomacy” NGO

“Hai Ka” Social, Security and Development” NGO

“Armenian Lawyers’ Association” NGO

“Civil Society Institute” NGO.


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