- Juan Mendez, the first UN advisor on Genocide prevention, issues “early warning” to prevent a genocide
- Mendez’ report was requested by Armenia following finding by Luis Moreno Ocampo, ex-prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, that Azerbaijan’s blockade qualifies as genocide
- Issue is being debated at a meeting in the UN
MONTROSE, Calif., Aug. 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The first UN Advisor on Genocide, Juan Mendez, has affirmed that Azerbaijan’s lack of compliance with a February order by the International Court of Justice to stop its blockade of food and humanitarian assistance to the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh is an “early warning” that offers the world a chance to prevent a genocide. The Center for Truth and Justice welcomes the report and notes that the world’s states now have ample evidence of the need to take action to end the blockade.
“Azerbaijan has ignored calls from the UN Secretary General, the US Secretary of State and the President of France to comply with the ICJ’s binding order and to open the Lachin Corridor,” wrote Mendez, now a professor of Human Rights Law at American University. “I focus my analysis in the prevention duty of the international community.” He also said the explanations offered, the denial of the very existence of a blockade, and the offer of alternative roads to eventually provide food all confirm Azerbaijan’s defiance of the ICJ order.
The report, which was requested by Armenia and was circulated immediately at the United Nations, was posted by Mendez on his Facebook page. It was discussed today during a closed meeting between representants of more than 30 nations. The UN Security Council is weighing a series of appeals from prominent quarters to compel an end to the blockade.
This comes two weeks after Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), found in another report that the blockade actually already constitutes a case of genocide.
Mendez, the first Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, wrote in his report that there is “sufficient reason to proffer an early warning to the international community that the population of Artsakh – Nagorno Karabakh is at risk of mass atrocities.”
He noted that the very UN position he held from 2004 to 2007 was created by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan precisely because of the “weak reaction by the international community to the genocides in Srebrenica in 1993 and in Rwanda in 1994.” There was a perceived need at the time for a mechanism to identify cases in which there was “a high probability of deterioration to the point of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity” – even before the situation is formally characterized as genocide.
The current case centers around the disputed Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karbakh, known to Armenians as Artsakh, which ended up in Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed but has since then operated as a self-governing entity. Azerbaijan seized much of the territory in a 2020 war that killed thousands of Armenians, and what remains of it is connected to the outside world by an access road known as the Lachin Corridor. On December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan blocked that road, allowing only intermittent passage by the Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers, and since June 15 all passage has been entirely blocked, cutting off food and other supplies.
The Mendez report, addressed to Armenia’s UN Ambassador Mher Margaryan, cited “instances of physical attacks inspired (by) hate speech” and “conditions of life that constitute hardship severe enough that the international community should exercise its responsibilities to protect that population.”
“We welcome the Mendez report, which, coming after the Ocampo report, is another clarion call to the world not to look away when tens of thousands are targeted by genocidal actions,” said Maggie Arutyunyan, a member of the leadership of the California-based Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ). “States now have no excuse to not understand the meaning of the blockade.”
The CFTJ is a group of attorneys dedicated to collecting testimonial evidence of war crimes, is renewing its call on world powers to intervene to end the genocide facing Nagorno-Karabakh.
ABOUT THE CFTJ:
CFTJ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in November 2020 in response to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. We are a group of lawyers overseeing the collection of firsthand testimonial evidence from war survivors via in-depth, recorded interviews. We run two law clinics, one in Armenia and one in Nagorno-Karabakh, which are the first of their kind.
Maggie Arutyunyan at 1(818)749-8185
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SOURCE Center for Truth & Justice