AGBU appeals to UN Security Council to apply the term genocide to Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh

One week after the conclusion of the August 16th emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the dire humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, AGBU’s leadership sent an Urgent Letter of Appeal to each of the 15 member representatives, including Albania, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, France, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Russia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, as well as to the Delegation of the European Union to the UN in New York.

The main message therein was a bold request: Start calling Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor what human rights experts and international agencies are now defining as Genocide.

“By officially and publicly defining Azerbaijan’s actions as genocidal, the UN member states can invoke the UN Convention on Genocide and take bold measures at its disposal to prevent and punish acts of Genocide through the International Court of Justice. It can also execute other strategic actions to meet its obligation to respond to situations where Genocide is a genuine threat,” AGBU President Berge Setrakian stated in the appeal.

These letters build on an urgent appeal from AGBU to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on August 10th. In that communication, Setrakian urged the United States to heed the warnings of an explosive report issued by Luis Moreno Ocampo, a world- renowned authority on human rights violations. Ocampo made a compelling case for calling the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh an imminent Genocide. The letter urged Secretary Blinken to intervene to ensure the Lachin Corridor was opened to allow the flow of humanitarian aid, on the ground, or, in the interim, via airlift, per the report’s warning that mass starvation was a matter of a few weeks away.

Adding to Ocampo’s analysis, on August 23rd Former Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and Professor of Human Rights Law of the American University (Washington, D.C.) Juan Mendez made a presentation to the member states that had reconvened to further address the crisis.  Professor Mendez focused on the prevention duty of the international community by highlighting the facts that constitute sufficient reason to proffer an early warning to the international community that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh is at risk of suffering “serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” as defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. 

The AGBU appeals were sent to the Security Council members, with copies to their respective foreign ministers, not only reinforcing the findings of both Ocampo and Mendez, but also urging the United Nations to immediately intervene to lift the blockade and stop the widespread food insecurity in Nagorno-Karabakh. “The time is now to back up words with actions such as rushing humanitarian aid, on the ground, or in the interim, via airlift, to alleviate the immediate threat of Genocide by starvation and disease,” urged Setrakian in the letter.

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