The Board of Governors of the Armenian Bar Association continues to monitor public announcements related to negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in connection with the resolution of disputes between the countries. The Armenian Bar Association is a non-profit non-political organization and we are not, and would not be, privy to any non-public details about those negotiations as they evolve.
We are deeply concerned about statements suggesting that, as part of a potential peace treaty with Azerbaijan, Armenia may recognize Azeri sovereignty over Artsakh and its people, making them subject to stated Azeri genocidal intentions. We have monitored and extensively documented over the last three years the genocidal and hate filled policies of the Azerbaijan government against Artsakh and Armenia and their populations, from acts of torture against civilians and POWs to extrajudicial and summary executions, from racial discrimination to destruction of cultural heritage and religious persecution, culminating with a cruel blockade violating the basic human rights of the people of Artsakh and creating humanitarian crises with severe shortages of food, water, fuel, electricity and internet communication. These are realities that make even the suggestion of Armenians of Artsakh being at the mercy of the Azeri regime unconscionable. There can be no assurance that Azerbaijan would respect any of its obligations under a treaty with Armenia, including one where Armenia has agreed to Azeri sovereignty over Artsakh. In fact, observed Azeri actions to date suggest that it would almost certainly abrogate its obligations.
As an organization, our mission is always to protect, advocate for and defend, first and foremost, persons and their inalienable rights to live freely, without fear of oppression or persecution and with respect for their human rights and dignity, whether they are in Armenia, Artsakh or elsewhere around the world. We can only offer our own guiding principles on the means to achieve peace:
Agreements made under duress are void. Article 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that “a treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.” No one would argue that peace is preferable to war. True lasting peace comes from respect for human rights and dignity. A peace agreement obtained under threats of aggression and ethnic cleansing, peace obtained under the chokehold of an illegal 170-day siege, peace obtained by sacrificing human rights is not true peace, and is unlikely to actually result in any meaningful reduction in aggression and human rights abuses. It would be only a reward incentivizing further violations of law and human rights.
Human Rights Cannot be Bargained Away in Peace Treaties. The human rights of the people of Artsakh cannot be negotiated away. Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that “a treaty is void, if at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law,” a “norm accepted and recognized by the international community of States as a whole as a norm from with no derogation is permitted.”
The People of Artsakh Have Their Independent Voice and Need a Seat at the Table. It is impossible to conclude peace negotiations without the involvement of the people directly affected by the negotiations, the people of Artsakh.
We will always stand with the people of Artsakh and advocate for their human rights, including their right to self-determination. We will continue to raise our voices until Armenians everywhere can live without fear of persecution and violence.
May 30, 2023