Yerevan Urges UN Security Council Members to Prevent Genocide
BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
It is unclear what the impact will be of the United Nations Security Council session addressing Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh and the acute humanitarian crisis that has resulted. However, official Yerevan took the opportunity to urge the countries represented at the Security Council to prevent another genocide.
Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan attended the Wednesday’s emergency UN Security Council session, during which an overwhelming majority of the country representatives called on Azerbaijan to lift the blockade of the Lachin Corridor and ensure the flow of humanitarian assistance to Artsakh.
There was a caveat: Most country representatives emphasized the importance of the peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh almost taking a back seat to the conversation, whose main purpose was to address what the former prosecutor general of the International Criminal Court called a genocide in progress by Azerbaijan.
Some speakers also opted to advance Baku’s scheme of an alternative route for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Artsakh — one that completely cuts off Armenia from Artsakh. Baku’s more ardent allies, such as Albania, highlighted the Aghdam-Stepanakert road as a viable option, parroting Azerbaijan’s insistence that a blockade is not — and has not been — underway.
Of course, this is the manifestation of the current global geopolitical climate, which is dominated by the countries’ posturing on the Russia-Ukraine war and overshadows any legitimate humanitarian issue anywhere around the world, unless it fits with that narrative.
Armenia was represented by its foreign minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, whose presentation provided a factual look at the events leading up to Wednesday’s session. He did urge the UNSC member-states to utilize their influence to prevent a genocide.
Below are excerpts from his speech.
So, today I am here to seek your support to address issues of very humanitarian nature and we expect from this Council:
- to condemn the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, prohibited by international law;
- to condemn the unlawful denial of humanitarian access and depriving the civilian population in Nagorno-Karabakh of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supply and access for responses to conflict‑induced food insecurity;
- to demand full compliance with obligations under the international humanitarian law, including those related to the protection of civilians, in particular women and children, and critical civilian infrastructure;
- to call for the immediate restoration of freedom and security of movement of persons, vehicles and cargo, in line with the previously reached agreements, through the Lachin corridor;
- to ensure full cooperation of the parties in good faith with the International Committee of the Red Cross and safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance;
- to dispatch an independent inter-agency needs assessment mission in Nagorno-Karabakh and provide humanitarian assistance to the affected population.
These humanitarian issues clearly need to be resolved with the international community’s strong intervention before the negative consequences result in ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh, “This is a deliberately engineered crime, driven by evident genocidal intent. The Azerbaijani authorities purposefully instigated the blockade of the Lachin corridor, with the knowledge that it would subject the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh to a gradual demise, yet chose to persist with this course of action.”
At the same time, the report of International Criminal Court former prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo reflects that it is already a genocide that is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Mr. Ocampo, “The blockade of the Lachin corridor by the Azerbaijani security forces impeding access to any food, medical supplies, and other essentials should be considered a Genocide under Article II, (c) of the Genocide Convention: “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction. Starvation is the invisible Genocide weapon. Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks.”
Distinguished Council, the prevention of such a catastrophe is a core duty of the United Nations and this Council. I do believe that this distinguished body, despite of geopolitical differences, has capacity to act as genocide prevention body and not as genocide commemoration, when it might be too late.
What Mirzoyan did not put forward was urging the UN Security Council to send a fact-finding mission to Artsakh.
The United States, which is chairing the Security Council this month, agreed to bring Armenia’s request to a debate. The State Department has called on Azerbaijan to lift the Lachin blockade. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN who was chairing the meeting, reiterated that. But the American policy on this issue has not been to take concrete steps, but rather to push Armenia and Azerbaijan to sign an agreement at all costs.
The meeting began with a briefing by Edem Wosornu, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Director of Operations and Advocacy, who said that there is no firsthand perspective on the situation on the ground. She did not emphasize that Azerbaijan has not allowed for the UN and international bodies to visit Artsakh since the 2020 war.
The session ended with the representatives of the Azerbaijan and Turkey essentially having the final word.
Ruben Vardanyan, Artsakh’s former State Minister summed up the reality of Wednesday’s so-called emergency meeting.
“The UN member states lack a precise understanding of the situation due to their inability to access Nagorno-Karabakh. Consequently, they may not fully comprehend the gravity of the circumstances. While calls are significant, tangible actions are required to avert any further deterioration,” Vardanyan said in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“I implore the UN to dispatch a mission to witness the reality on the ground. I am confident that following this firsthand experience, they will be resolute in taking definitive actions to counter Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy,” he added.