On 16 September 2021, Armenia initiated proceedings against Azerbaijan before the International Court of Justice over violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”) by Azerbaijani authorities. On 23 September 2021, Azerbaijan commenced its own proceedings under the same basis, before the Court against Armenia.
Through its application, Armenia requested the Court to take provisional measures “as a matter of extreme urgency” in order to “protect and preserve Armenia’s rights and the rights of Armenians from further harm, and to prevent the aggravation or extension of this dispute”.
Armenia contended that individuals of Armenian ethnic or national origin residing in Azerbaijan have been subject to systemic discrimination, torture, mass killings and other abuses by the government of Azerbaijan. These practices allegedly commenced in September 2020, during the recent Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict, and continued even after the end of hostilities, following a ceasefire which came into effect on 10 November 2020.
On 7 December 2021, the Court partially accepted Armenia’s request and ordered Azerbaijan to take all necessary measures to prevent the incitement and promotion of racial hatred and discrimination; protect all persons captured in the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict from violence and bodily harm; and prevent and punish acts of vandalism against Armenian cultural heritage. It also ordered both countries to refrain from aggravating the dispute. Notably, however, the Court denied Armenia’s request to direct Azerbaijan to ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of CERD.