Link to original article: https://www.tert.am/en/news/2021/04/12/alfred-de-zayas/3579285.
In an interview with Tert.am, Alfred de Zayas, an independent American lawyer, writer and historian formerly affiliated with the UN, shared his concerns over Azerbaijan’s military aggreession against Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) during the 44-day fighting, condemning the leading world organizations’ somewhat tolerant attitude to the reported crimes against humanity.
“Azerbaijan has violated agreements on the return of POWs. But who knows this, and what do we read in the New York Times, Washington Post, etc.? Sure enough, those who follow the United Nations knows that a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh David Babayan to the UN Secretary General António Guterres, regarding the situation of the Armenian prisoners of war and civilians captured by Azerbaijan was issued as a General Assembly document in six UN languages. But who reads such documents? Who knows that the military aggression against Artsakh entailed the crime of aggression for purposes of article 5 of the Statute of Rome and the Kampala definition of aggression, who knows that gross violations of international humanitarian law were committed by Azerbaijan?” he asked.
The expert said he has a deep feeling that the world is now living “in the midst of an information war”. “The situation cannot advance without the correct facts and a joint commitment to the Geneva Red Cross Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Not only did the European Union fail to prevent this Azerbaijani aggression. It failed to condemn the war crimes, the terrorist attacks on the civilian population, the presence of Islamist mercenaries recruited by Turkey in Syria. And notwithstanding this grotesque involvement of Turkey in the war crimes against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, the EU wants to talk “business” with President Erdogan.
“We live in the midst of fake news and fake law, in the midst of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide – and impunity, which thus far the United Nations and the mainstream media have tolerated,” he added.
Asked to comment on the role which the international community could have played to protect the captives’ rights and ensure their repatriation, Mr. Zayas said he believes that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has “betrayed European values and human rights repeatedly”.
“It has played cheap politics and appeasement of Turkey. Already on 25 January 2005, PACE adopted the disgraceful Resolution 1416. Again on 26 January 2016 PACE adopted another hypocritical resolution 2085, which gave priority to the principle of ‘territorial integrity’ over the jus cogens right of the self-determination of peoples. And this notwithstanding the clear language of the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion concerning the unilateral declaration of Independence by Kosovo. Again, the Europeans demonstrated that they were not interested in applying international law uniformly, but only à la carte, following their geopolitical and geoeconomic interests. Admittedly, some UN voices and ICRC voices have called for the release of prisoners, but remarkably few. In the Human Rights Council we have a press release signed by numerous special rapporteurs demanding “the prompt release of prisoners of war and other captives … and the return of bodies to families for burial with due respect for cultural customs.” This was on 1 February 2021, co-signed by Nils Melzer, the Rapporteur on torture, Tae-Ung Baik. Henrikas Mickevicius, Aua Balde, Bernard Duhaine, Luciano Hazan of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearences, and agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Alas, we rapporteurs are little more than an “assembly of Cassandras”, as I told the General Assembly in 2017. There is no follow-up mechanism, no effort on the part of the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to have concrete actions follow our recommendations,” he said.
Addressing Armenia’s possible actions in the current state of affairs, the expert stressed the importance of intensifying the cooperation with Moscow. “Only Putin can make pressure on Erdogan and tell Alijev to release the prisoners of war and to stop sabre-rattling. Alas, Armenia has few friends in Western Europe. Perhaps the French Foreign Ministry could engage its diplomacy on behalf of Nagorno Karabagh. Germany will not do it because of its huge Turkish population. Nor will NATO will anything to help Nagorno Karabakh. Armenia should also activate its lobbies in the United States. Indeed, there is currently a resolution before the US House of Representatives — H.Res. 240 — calling Azerbaijan to immediately release 200 Armenian prisoners of war and captures civilians. Armenia should lobby members of the UN General Assembly to elevate the issue of self-determination to the International Court of Justice with a view to obtain an advisory opinion stating quite clearly that self-determination is a jus cogens right of all peoples and that the Armenians of Nagorno Karabagh are rights-holders. The ICJ could clearly state that the ‘principle of territorial integrity’ does not justify massive violations of human rights and that the obsolete principle of ‘uti possidetis’ is incompatible with the UN Charter and the rights of peoples. An Advisory Opinion can be obtained by virtue of a vote in the General Assembly pursuant to article 96 of the UN Charter,” he said.