Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan at the Human Rights Council 52nd Session

28 February, 2023

On February 28, Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan, who was in Geneva, participated in the UN Human Rights Council 52nd Session and delivered remarks.

In his speech, Minister Mirzoyan, particularly noted:

“Mr. President,

Distinguished colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Armenia congratulates the newly elected Bureau of the Human Rights Council under the Presidency of H.E. Mr. Václav Bálek. We would like to extend best wishes of success to H.E. Mr. Volker Türk, as this is his first Council session in the capacity of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Armenia reiterates its unwavering commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights. This year again, Armenia received the highest rankings in the region by the World Press Freedom Index and the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit. 

As a member of the HRC, including at its Bureau in 2022, Armenia strived to make a meaningful contribution to the international efforts to promote and protect human rights worldwide. I would like to particularly emphasize Armenia’s contribution to international efforts on the prevention of genocide. We thank each and every state that supported the consensual adoption of the HRC resolutions on the Prevention of Genocide put forward by Armenia in 2022.

In 2023 we mark the 75th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide - the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly. It was followed by the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the next day. There was no coincidence in such a succession, as it was the aftermath of the bloodiest and most violent war in the history of humanity. Those two documents laid the solid foundation for the human rights architecture of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

The UN Secretary-General has recently assessed that “we are facing the gravest levels of geopolitical division and mistrust in generations”. 2022 was a challenging year for the Human Rights Council as well.

As the High Commissioner recently put it, in spite of geopolitical differences the Council should be the place where we come together to protect our shared human rights values and our shared humanity. We concur with him that the greatest challenge of the human rights system has been to ensure equal attention to the protection of the rights of all.

We believe that the protection of the human rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh has been continuously overlooked. While we can appreciate the gravity of the situation elsewhere because of other conflicts and crises, there cannot be any hierarchies of suffering based on geopolitical considerations and interests.

Against all odds, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been striving to exercise their human rights freely. This determination has not changed even after devastating repetitive waves of repression and aggression of Azerbaijan that killed thousands of people and ruined hundreds of towns and villages, civilian infrastructure, cultural and religious heritage. The international community, however, remained largely inactive as Azerbaijan’s appetite was emboldened by impunity. The latter, then, attacked and occupied the sovereign territories of the Republic of Armenia.

In the atmosphere of such total impunity, Azerbaijan continues to breach principles of the international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It has been for around 80 days that Azerbaijan blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the outer world. Azerbaijan has also disrupted the electricity and is regularly cutting the gas supply. As a result, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan announced at the highest level that it can lift the blockade for all those who want to leave Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a creeping ethnic cleansing in making.

In this context, I would like to underline that on 22 February the International Court of Justice issued a legally binding provisional measure against Azerbaijan in the proceedings brought by Armenia against it, while unanimously rejecting Azerbaijan’s requests made in the parallel proceedings with respect to alleged laying of mines by Armenia. In the mentioned order, the Court has found that there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm to Armenians’ rights under the Convention for Elimination of Racial Discrimination and ordered Azerbaijan to take all necessary measures to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions. The ICJ provisional measures are legally binding, however, thus far Azerbaijan failed to lift the blockade of the Lachin corridor.

Azerbaijan commits this crime amid the wide and truly global demand to open the Lachin Corridor, including by the UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In the same manner, Azerbaijan has failed to investigate the extrajudicial executions, torture, mutilation and desecration of the bodies of dead Armenian soldiers, including women, as was specifically called upon by the UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders. The UN Human Rights experts further emphasized that they still anticipate from Azerbaijan “information on the factual and legal reasons for the continued detention of the Prisoners of War after the cessation of hostilities, and the measures taken to inform families of the disappeared about their fate and the exact whereabouts.”

Let me conclude, Mr President, by expressing Armenia’s firm conviction that the deployment of the UN interagency mission to the Lachin Corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh is the bare minimum that the international community can do in these circumstances. The UN is bestowed with a universal mandate and should enjoy unconditional and unimpeded access to people in need. The UN human rights machinery should be utilized for saving lives, extending the necessary humanitarian assistance and protecting the human rights of the people concerned. The world needs positive and successful cases of the application of international mechanisms, the ones that they were created and mandated for. The international system cannot afford to sustain yet another failure.

And I thank you.”

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