Armenia, Azerbaijan to clash at UN top court

Azerbaijan and Armenia will fight out a long-running "ethnic cleansing" dispute at the top United Nations court from Monday, just as military tensions are ramping up between the historic enemies.

Robed lawyers from the two countries embark on two weeks of hearings, wrestling over interpretations of international law in the gilded Peace Palace of the International Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, the two traded accusations earlier this month of opening fire along their volatile shared border, dimming hopes of a lasting peace deal after decades of sporadic fighting.

The legal battle before the ICJ dates from September 2021 when both sides filed tit-for-tat suits against each other within a week.

Both sides accused the other of "ethnic cleansing" and of violating the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The ICJ, which rules in disputes between states, issued emergency orders in December 2021, calling on both parties to prevent incitement and promotion of racial hatred.

But while the ICJ's orders are binding, it has no enforcement mechanism and tensions grew, culminating in Azerbaijan's lightning offensive last September in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Baku reclaimed Karabakh in the one-day offensive, prompting the enclave's entire ethnic Armenian population — more than 100,000 people — to flee for Armenia.

Just weeks afterwards, Armenia returned to the ICJ, urging the court to order Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from Karabakh and allow Armenian refugees to return home safely.

In November, the court ordered Azerbaijan to allow anyone wishing to return to Karabakh to do so in a "safe, unimpeded and expeditious manner".

The latest...

Continue reading on: