The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Azerbaijan to ensure the “safe and unimpeded” return of individuals who left Artsakh after September 19, when Azerbaijan launched a massive attack on Artsakh forcing the exodus of more than 100,000 Armenians from their homes.
The ICJ’s order was in response to Armenia’s application for what are known as “special measures.”
The ICJ, which is the United Nations’ highest judicial body, said that Azerbaijan “shall refrain from taking any actions directly or indirectly aimed at or having the effect of displacing the remaining ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, or preventing the safe and expeditious return to their homes of persons displaced in the course of the recent military attack, including those who have fled to Armenia or third States, while permitting those who wish to leave Nagorno-Karabakh to do so without any hindrance.”
The court said that Azerbaijan’s actions on September 19 took place under “the long-standing exposure of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh to a situation of vulnerability and social precariousness,” referring to Baku’s 10-month blockade of the Lachin Corridor.
In its ruling, the ICJ also recalled its other ruling regarding the blockade noting that “the residents of this region have been severely impacted by the long-lasting disruption of the connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia via the Lachin Corridor.”
The ICJ said that Azerbaijan must ensure that “persons who have left Nagorno-Karabakh after 19 September 2023 and who wish to return to Nagorno-Karabakh are able to do so in a safe, unimpeded and expeditious manner; ensure that persons who remained in Nagorno-Karabakh after 19 September 2023 and who wish to depart are able to do so in a safe, unimpeded and expeditious manner; and ensure that persons who remained in Nagorno-Karabakh after 19 September 2023 or returned to Nagorno-Karabakh and who wish to stay are free from the use of force or intimidation that may cause them to flee.”
This interim decision will be finalized once Armenia has been allowed to comment on the ruling.
During Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh, the ICJ ordered Baku to “ensure unimpeded movement along the Lachin Corridor.”
Azerbaijan ignored that order, despite numerous calls from the United States and the European Union and its member states.