World court orders Azerbaijan to end Karabakh blockade

By Mark Dovich

The International Court of Justice voted 13-2 Wednesday to order Azerbaijan to end its blockade of Karabakh, which has stretched into its third month and prompted a major humanitarian crisis in the region. Although the decision is legally binding, the court has no enforcement powers.

The ICJ rejected two other requests by Armenia to order Azerbaijan to end its support for the self-styled protesters blocking the Lachin corridor and to stop disrupting Karabakh’s energy supplies.

In a separate decision released Wednesday, the court unanimously dismissed a request by Azerbaijan to order Armenia to refrain from laying landmines in and around Karabakh.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said it welcomed the ICJ’s rulings and called on “international partners to take effective steps to ensure the immediate implementation of the court’s decision.” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry pledged to “continue to seek to hold Armenia to account.”

Wednesday’s rulings represent the latest development in an ongoing legal fight between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the ICJ, the United Nations’ principal judicial body. The court has previously ordered both countries to prevent discrimination against the other’s citizens and not to aggravate their decades-long conflict further.

Armenia initiated proceedings against Azerbaijan at the ICJ two years ago, alleging violations of a 1969 racial discrimination prevention treaty. Shortly thereafter, Azerbaijan filed a countersuit against Armenia under the same treaty, one of only a handful of international conventions that both countries have signed on to.

The ICJ, sometimes called the World Court, settles disputes between countries. Since its creation after World War II, the court has heard fewer than 200 cases. The twin cases involving Armenia and Azerbaijan mark the first time either country has been subject to ICJ rulings.

The two countries’ legal fight escalated earlier this year when Azerbaijan launched a challenge against Armenia under a 1982 nature conservation treaty, alleging environmental destruction in and around Karabakh. It marks the first time any country has sought interstate arbitration under that convention.

The cases remain ongoing.


Also read: Yerevan rejects Baku’s proposal for checkpoints along key Karabakh road

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