Statement of the Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan at the High-level Segment of the 55th session of the Human Rights Council

27 February, 2024

"Mr. President,

Distinguished colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Armenia congratulates the newly elected Bureau of the Human Rights Council under the Presidency of H.E. Ambassador Omar Zniber of Morocco and wishes all the best at the helm of this august body.

A year ago, from this very stage, the UN Secretary-General warned of rising public disregard and private disdain for human rights. He called to stand on the right side of history, to stand up for the human rights of everyone, everywhere.

Indeed, the world becomes a dangerous place when adherence to human rights declines, when our common principles and norms, particularly international law, international human rights and humanitarian law, are ignored and violated on a massive scale.  

Armenia views this august Council as one of the key pillars of the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide. It is in this vein that at this session, Armenia presents a new iteration of Genocide Prevention resolution. We believe that the HRC should continue its contribution to the international efforts of countering the scourge of genocide, not least through exploring ways of enhancing early warning and early action capacities. And this is the main thrust of the new draft. We count on the wide support to this noble goal.

Mr. President,

Since 2020 the international human rights law and international humanitarian law have been continuously violated in our region. In the course of the last three and half years, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh suffered from war of aggression, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, starvation and other forms of inhumane treatment. It endured a ten-month-long blockade of the Lachin corridor, the only connection to Armenia and the world, and then was subjected to renewed hostilities, which resulted in the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Armenian population of the region.

We have been witnessing such a policy of Azerbaijan since the 80s of last century. In fact, today, we commemorate the victims of Sumgait pogroms. Together with similar acts in Baku, Kirovabad and other Armenian-populated cities of Azerbaijan, around 360 thousand Armenians were forced to flee their homes, deprived of all their rights, including the right to property, and find refuge in Armenia. Earlier, due to the same-style implemented policy, Armenians left their homes in Nakhijevan. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, there was no shortage of early warning signs of the looming atrocities. The list includes statements from the UN Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Orders of ICJ, public communications of UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders. 

However, this was not enough for the international community, and I quote the Secretary General again, “to stand on the right side of history, to stand up for human rights”. Approximately 145.000 people were forcibly displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh and relocated to Armenia between 2020 and 2023. Here I should state that the Government of Armenia undertakes all necessary actions to address the needs and rights of these people. Together with dealing with the short-term challenges-providing access to education, social protection, healthcare system, supporting their housing difficulties, we are already planning concrete actions to address mid-term and long-term needs aimed at further integration of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are more than thousand missing persons and enforced disappearances on the Armenian side from the wars of the 1990s and 2020. We have 23 prisoners of war and other detainees in Azerbaijan. We have an immense risk of destruction of Armenian cultural and religious heritage that the UN Special Rapporteur has recently warned: “may amount to cultural cleansing.”

There is continuous bellicose rhetoric and military escalation provoked by Azerbaijan following earlier incursions into the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. The impunity of the illegal use of force resulted in new territorial claims against Armenia. Nowadays, the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia is presented as so-called “Western Azerbaijan”, which was invented with a pure intention to keep tension in the region.

Nevertheless, Armenia is committed to the peace agenda and will not deviate from it. We are convinced that mutual recognition of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders based on the 1991 Almaty declaration and delimitation of the interstate border based on the most recent and legitimate maps of the USSR is the only path towards peace and stability in our region. We also do believe that the opening of all regional communications that respect sovereignty and jurisdiction of states and is based on the principles of equality and reciprocity can create additional interdependencies complementing the stability of the South Caucasus and wider region. To that end, the Government of Armenia introduced the “Crossroads of Peace” initiative once again reaffirming our genuine interest and political will to unblock all the transport links. 

Concluding, I would like to underline that against all odds and challenges, we have been facing, Armenia continues its path towards the consolidation of democracy, and we are proud of the remarkable achievements that have been registered. The recent accession to the Rome Statute is only one, albeit a major step in this regard that stands as the token of our unwavering commitment to uphold human rights. Armenia is also taking considerable steps to further strengthen the rights of women, children, and other vulnerable groups, improve labor rights and social protection mechanisms. 

And I thank you."

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