GENEVA — On February 28, the High-level Segment of the 49th session of the Human Rights Council was held in Geneva, chaired by the Vice-President of the UN Human Rights Council, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva Andranik Hovhannisyan. During the session, Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan delivered remarks, in which he particularly noted:
It is a particular pleasure for me to greet you, Mr. Vice-President, as you chair this session of the Council. I would also like to congratulate all members of the Bureau under the able leadership of Federico Villegas, the President of the Council.
The Human Rights Council is one of the key achievements of multilateral diplomacy as it provides an indispensable platform for sustaining and promoting dialogue on human rights irrespective of various international and regional crises. This Council has been envisaged to stand for all and everyone in all times. It is the inherent dignity of human beings that we have at stake here. With so many existing and evolving crises all over the world, the human rights of people in the situation of conflicts should be of particular focus of the Human Rights Council and its special procedures.
It is with these vision and objectives that Armenia has entered the third year of its fully-fledged membership of the Council. I believe that we have been able to prove ourselves as a trustworthy and reliable partner in reacting to and addressing the outlying thematic issues and critical country situations. We are determined to continue our contribution in a most constructive and positive manner.
In this context I am glad to announce that Armenia intends to table anew the draft resolution on the Prevention of genocide at this session of the Council. That is a subject that Armenia has been championing for many years. Our team in Geneva is going to organize a transparent process of consultations with all interested States and other stakeholders.
After the difficulties and political crisis after the 44-day war launched by Azerbaijan snap-parliamentary elections were held, where people of Armenia reconfirmed their commitments and devotion to the values of democracy and human rights. The international observers of the snap parliamentary elections assessed that they passed in compliance with the human rights commitments and democratic standards. Most recently in this year’s Democracy Index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit Armenia was ranked as a leader of the region based on such findings as electoral process and pluralism, functioning of the government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Armenia’s membership to the United Nations. I hereby reiterate my nation’s unwavering commitment to multilateralism with the United Nations at its core, and our full adherence to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
It was no coincidence that the opening line of the United Nations Charter referred to “We the peoples” as the source of its legitimacy. People and their rights must be placed at the forefront and center of everything done by the United Nations as a whole. The right to self-determination has been one of the main purposes of the United Nations and use of force against this right can trigger an entire chain of human rights violations including mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing. This is something we observe during and after the war initiated by Azerbaijan against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.
The UN and its bodies have been bestowed with a universal mandate to enjoy unconditional, unimpeded, unhindered access to the people in need, wherever they are and in all circumstances. We call upon the international community to assume responsibility for ensuring unconditional access to the whole territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders issued several communications to Azerbaijan raising questions with regard to the use of mercenaries, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, destruction of religious and cultural heritage in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan declined to give a proper response and in fact failed to answer to the last communications at all, in a sheer defiance to the UN Human rights machinery.
The impunity leads to new violations. Apart from Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan continues its policy of human rights abuses now on the borderline areas of the Republic of Armenia, wherein the civilian population suffers from constant provocative actions of armed forces of Azerbaijan. This aggressive policy is accompanied by the overt violations of international humanitarian law. After 16 months of ceasefire in place Azerbaijan continues to hold 38 Armenian prisoners of war, including civilians, while the fate of hundreds of missing persons and dozen cases of enforced disappearances remain unclarified.
The plight of people to whom the UN does not have access should not be forgotten. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh should not be discriminated because of their origin, language, religion, political or other opinion, national origin or other status. We strive to achieve the safe, dignified and voluntary return of the Armenians to their ancestral homes in all parts of Nagorno-Karabakh
The provisional measures put forward by the International Court of Justice on December 7, 2021 which instructs Azerbaijan to cease racist and discriminatory policies against Armenians including destruction and vandalism of the Armenian cultural heritage should be unconditionally implemented. These measures come to prove the Anti-Armenian policies of Azerbaijan including its bellicose rhetoric, depriving the people of their means of subsistence, constantly terrorizing Armenian population and threatening with new use of force.
Only by urgently addressing these issues will we be able to ensure stability, peace, justice and protection of universal human rights in our region.
I thank you.”