UN top court orders Azerbaijan to unblock Lachin Corridor
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hauge ordered Azerbaijan on Wednesday to “take all steps at its disposal” to allow free movement of traffic along the Lachin Corridor, the only lifeline connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia that has been blocked by Azeri government-sponsored “protesters” for more than two months.
The UN’s top court passed the decision with an overwhelming majority of votes, where 13 of 15 judges of the court have voted in favor of the ruling, Associated Press (AP) reported.
ICJ’s legally binding decision came after both Azerbaijan and Armenia filed a case with the court accusing each other of breaching a convention aimed at stamping out racial discrimination, AP said.
The two Caucasian countries that have embroiled in a six-week of war in 2020 autumn over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, most recently got at loggerheads when Azerbaijan has blocked the key Lachin Corridor.
Since Dec.12, the Azerbaijani government-sponsored protesters defining themselves as environmental activists have blocked the road, claiming that Armenians in Karabakh were illegally mining the gold and copper reserves in nearby mines. The blockage halted the movement of people and goods in or out of the enclave, including food, fuel, and medical supplies, resulting in shortages of the products.
Armenia’s lawyers said during court hearings last month that the roadblock was part of an Azerbaijani campaign the Armenians labeled “ethnic cleansing,” AP said.
According to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the closure of the road was a provocation with an “ultimate goal of which is a new military escalation”.
Pashinyan in January urged all to avoid steps that could contribute to “the success of these provocations.”
ICJ President Joan E. Donoghue said the evidence presented by Armenia established that the blockade “has impeded the transfer of persons of Armenian national and ethnic origin hospitalized in Nagorno-Karabakh to medical facilities in Armenia for urgent medical care.”
It also interrupted supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh of “essential goods causing shortages of food, medicine and other lifesaving medical supplies,” AP cited Donoghue as saying.
In its ruling, the court said Armenia’s request for judges to order Azerbaijan to “cease its orchestration and support” of the protests on the Lachin Corridor was “not warranted.”
The judges rejected Armenia’s request for an order for Azerbaijan not to block gas supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that Armenian lawyers did not provide enough evidence to back their claim that Azerbaijan was disrupting the supply.
The judges also declined a request by Azerbaijan for an order to stop or prevent Armenia from laying landmines and booby traps in areas of the region to which Azerbaijani citizens are to return.
The world court ordered both nations a little over a year ago to prevent discrimination against one another’s citizens in the aftermath of the war and to not further aggravate the conflict.
In a statement, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said Azerbaijan “will continue to uphold the rights of all people under international law and to hold Armenia to account for its ongoing and historic grave violations of human rights.”