Armenia asks World Court to throw out Azerbaijan discrimination case

By Thomson Reuters Apr 22, 2024 | 4:52 AM

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Armenia asked the International Court of Justice to throw out a case brought by its neighbour Azerbaijan accusing it of anti-Azeri ethnic cleansing in violation of a U.N. anti-discrimination treaty.

The move comes a week after Azerbaijan did the same thing, asking the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to dismiss a case brought against it by Armenia. A final ruling in both cases could be years away, and the court has no way to enforce its rulings.

On Monday, Armenia’s representative Yeghishe Kirakosyan told judges at the U.N.’s top court that Azerbaijan was relying on facts from before the entry into force of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) between the two states, which Armenia says was in September 1996.

The case is part of the fallout from decades of confrontation between the South Caucasus neighbours – most explosively over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan.

Armenia first filed a case at the ICJ in 2021, when it accused Azerbaijan of glorifying racism against Armenians, allowing hate speech against them and destroying Armenian cultural sites – all accusations that Baku denies.

Azerbaijan then brought its own anti-discrimination case against Yerevan a week later. It alleged that Armenia had carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing from the early 1990s until 2020. Armenia denies those claims.

Last week Azerbaijan asked the court to throw out Armenia’s case, saying most of the complaints related to the armed conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh and did not fall within the scope of the anti-discrimination treaty and did not give enough time to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

The current hearings will cover only the legal objections to the jurisdiction of the ICJ and will not go into the merits of the discrimination claims.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)