Atrocities, Genocide and the Duty to Prevent and to Punish Under International Law: The Situation of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh

Armenians have suffered discrimination and persecution at the hands of Azerbaijan—in Azerbaijan, Armenia and in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh—for decades. In December 2022, Azerbaijan began its restrictions and eventual full blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting the 120,000 ethnic Armenians in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh within the borders of Azerbaijan to Armenia proper. As of this writing, for nearly 300 days, the population of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, 25% of whom are children, have been deprived of life-saving necessities such as food, medicines and fuel, resulting in starvation and death. More recently, even the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian aid organizations were prevented from accessing the population and, all the while, Azerbaijani officials have employed rhetoric normalizing hatred against ethnic Armenians while weaponizing starvation leading to death or forcible displacement from Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh.  

Azerbaijan’s aggression with respect to the Lachin Corridor over the past year is not isolated and points to a pattern and practice of ethnic cleansing that has gone unchecked for years. Indeed, on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan launched a military operation against the already-suffering people of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, with multiple deaths and dozens of injuries within the first 24 hours of the attack. This tragic situation became an overt initiation of wholesale, violent ethnic cleansing, and while ceasefire agreements may be in place, threats to the safety and security of the ethnic Armenians in this region continue. 

Looking at the situation with respect to attacks against ethnic Armenians as a result of the Lachin Corridor blockade, and recent active military attacks in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh and in Armenia generally, this panel will explore the following key questions drawing from action taken thus far by States and international actors (or not):