Is Armenia Sitting on its Right to Justice?

BY STEVEN J. DADAIAN

In the past five decades–the body and strength of international law has grown and developed. It is well established that along with recognition of genocide as a criminal offense–comes the necessity to undo its effects and an obligation to grant restitution and compensation to the victims.

It is also well established in international law that pursuant to the doctrine of legal continuity–a successor government is liable for claims arising from the former government’s violations–i.e. the continued paymen’s made by modern Germany for the crimes of Nazi Germany 60 years ago. It is undisputed that the modern Republic of Turkey is the successor of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and it reaps the benefit of the ill gotten gains derived from the Armenian Genocide.

In 1948–the post WWII nations agreed that Genocide–wherever and whenever committed–is a crime under international law–and must be punished under the United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Article 9 of the Convention confers jurisdiction on the International Court of Justice in all matters relating to the Genocide Convention–including the determination of State responsibility for genocide. Most important–the Convention obliges all parties to concede to the United Nations and the ICJ the right of intervention in this sphere–that is all parties who are its signators.

In 1950 the Republic of Turkey signed the Genocide Convention without reservation–signifying their agreement to all its terms including the granting of complete jurisdiction to the United Nations International Court of Justice at the Hague to determine any dispute plead based on this Convention. Alas–at the time–Turkey had nothing to fear from Armenia’since she was safely consumed by the Soviet Union–thus fully dispossessed of any rights or privileges among the family of nations.

The world changed in 1990 and an independent Armenian Republic was reborn. It was recognized by the world and invited to take its rightful place in the United Nations in late 1991. By 1993 Armenia had also become a signatory to the United Nations Genocide Convention.

Over 10 years have passed since Armenia–as an independent country–has been granted the right and authority to file its petition of dispute before the International Court of Justice–yet no petition has been filed. It is a well established axiom of law and equity that a party who fails to act on his rights can be deemed to have waived or abandoned those rights. Does Armenia intend to allow its rights under the Genocide Convention to be abandoned?

The grandchildren of the Armenian Genocide in the diaspora–having organized and channeled their efforts through the Armenian National Committees around the world–have secured an unprecedented international spotlight with nation after nation officially acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. Critical mass has been reached. No longer can the Republic of Armenia neglect its duty to the Armenian Nation.

Is it now our obligation to demand that the Republic of Armenia petition the United Nations International Court of Justice for a resolution of the Armenian Nation’s plea for international justice for the continued denial of the Genocide by modern Turkey. (Steven J. Dadaian–is an attorney specializing in government law and a former Chairman of the Armenian National Committee–Western Region)

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