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Azerbaijan Opens Case against Rival Armenia at Top UN Court

Azerbaijan Opens Case against Rival Armenia at Top UN Court

Friday, 24 September, 2021 - 05:45
FILE – In this Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 file photo, ethnic Armenian soldiers walk along the road near the border between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. (AP Photo/File)

Azerbaijan on Thursday launched its case accusing neighbor Armenia of racial discrimination and "ethnic cleansing" before the UN's top court, in a bitter tit for tat international court battle.

Baku's claim comes just a week after Armenia lodged a similar case before the Hague-based International Court of Justice, said AFP.

"Armenia has engaged and is continuing to engage in a series of discriminatory acts against Azerbaijanis on the basis of their 'national or ethnic' origin," Azerbaijan said in its filing before the court.

Echoing Armenia's case against Baku, Azerbaijan said Yerevan has breached a UN treaty, the International Convention of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

"Through both direct and indirect means, Armenia continues its policy of ethnic cleansing," Azerbaijan said.

Armenia "incites hatred and ethnic violence against Azerbaijanis by engaging in hate speech and disseminating racist propaganda, including at the highest levels of its government," it said.

The ICJ was set up after World War II to rule on disputes between United Nations member states. Cases usually take years to reach a conclusion.

Decades of tensions over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted into a six-week war last autumn that claimed more than 6,500 lives.

"Armenia once again targeted Azerbaijanis for brutal treatment motivated by ethnic hatred," Baku said, referring to the hostilities.

It ended in November with a Russian-brokered ceasefire under which Armenia ceded territories it had controlled for decades.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that broke away from Baku's control in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Around 30,000 people have died during the conflict.

Baku asked the ICJ to institute emergency measures to "protect Azerbaijanis" while the case was being heard.

Both sides have long traded accusations of rights abuses, including in last year's war.

In February, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan both addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council over their claims that the other side violated international law.

Armenia accused Azerbaijani forces of targeting civilian infrastructure and destroying Armenian cultural and religious heritage.

Azerbaijan, which was backed by Turkey during the conflict, for its part accused Armenian forces of war crimes.

In December, Amnesty International urged Baku and Yerevan to urgently probe "war crimes" committed by both sides during the fighting.

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