On December 18, 2020, the Armenian Bar Association submitted an official report to the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”) in the context of Azerbaijan’s upcoming review as a State party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (the “Convention”).

The almost 40-page report (https://armenianbar.org/category/artsakh/) lays out Azerbaijan’s litany of violations of its obligations under the Convention and focuses on Azerbaijan’s policies of racial discrimination against Armenians.  Led by Armenian Bar members Anoush Baghdassarian and Yelena Ambartsumian, a comprehensive global team of law students and legal professionals researched and prepared the report: Mariam Ghazaryan in Armenia, Gariné Morcecian and Maral Morcecian in Argentina, and Astghik Hairapetian, Ovsanna Takvoryan, Mariam Nazaretyan, Mary Manukyan, Haig Ter-Ghevondian, and Kristine Kousherian in California.

Lucy Varpetian, Chairperson of the Armenian Bar, explained, “We are pleased, in fact compelled, to provide this report to the United Nations CERD and have embraced the obligation that civic organizations in general, and legal professional groups in particular, have in addressing and combating hate speech and hate policies, which are often the precursors to and drivers of ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

As detailed in the report, despite several international human rights organizations having expressed concern about Azerbaijan’s policies of racial discrimination against ethnic Armenians, Azerbaijan failed to end these contemptible practices and further exacerbated them during its recent military incursions against the Armenian-populated Republics of Artsakh and Armenia.  The report documents Azerbaijan’s hate speech and racially motivated hate crimes, which leads to the indisputable conclusion that Azerbaijan has not eliminated the problems highlighted in the CERD’s Concluding Observations of 2016 and has not implemented the CERD’s recommendations from that last review.  Instead, Azerbaijan has only reinforced its policies of racial hatred and discrimination against Armenians.

Such abhorrent Azerbaijani policies resulted in the most profound and severe expressions of Armenophobia and anti-Armenian sentiment during and after Azerbaijan’s military campaign in Artsakh.  These state-sanctioned polices manifested as physical harm including torture and death of ethnic Armenians, destruction and vandalism of Armenian property and cultural heritage, and the violation of Armenians’ environmental rights.

The Armenian Bar’s report highlights (i) the obligations Azerbaijan has failed to implement since its last review, (ii) the inflammatory speech directed against Armenians by the Azerbaijani government and public figures, (iii) the discriminatory speech directed against Armenians in Azerbaijani public discourse and social media, (iv) the physical hate crimes against Armenians around the world, and (iv) Azerbaijan’s racial hatred and violation of the CERD and other international humanitarian treaties during Azerbaijan’s recent so-called “military solution” to the Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh conflict.  The report culminates with a request that the CERD urge Azerbaijan to end impunity for its anti-Armenian policies, investigate each instance of hate speech and hate crimes against ethnic Armenians under the control of Azerbaijan and its forces, and implement steps immediately to curtail such anti-Armenian policies.


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