International Court of Justice rules that Azerbaijan must open Lachin Corridor

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), principal judicial organ of the UN, delivers its Order (by video link) in the case concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Armenia v. Azerbaijan) on 22 February 2023, at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the Court. Session held under the presidency of Judge Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court. (Photo: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Wiebe Kiestra. Courtesy of the ICJ.)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Azerbaijan must guarantee free movement along the Lachin Corridor. 

The Lachin Corridor has been closed since December 12, placing Artsakh under blockade. The corridor, the sole route connecting Artsakh with Armenia, has been blocked by Azerbaijani activists supported by their government. Armenia sent a request to the ICJ on December 28 for provisional measures ordering Azerbaijan to reopen the corridor. 

In its final ruling on February 22, the United Nations court observed that “since 12 December 2022, the connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia via the Lachin Corridor has been disrupted.” The ICJ ruled that Azerbaijan must “take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.” 

“The disruption on the Lachin Corridor has impeded the transfer of persons of Armenian national or ethnic origin hospitalized in Nagorno-Karabakh to medical facilities in Armenia for urgent medical care. The evidence also indicates that there have been hindrances to the importation into Nagorno-Karabakh of essential goods, causing shortages of food, medicine and other life-saving medical supplies,” the decision reads

Members of the Delegation of Armenia (Photo: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Wiebe Kiestra. Courtesy of the ICJ.)

Armenia had also requested that Azerbaijan “cease its orchestration and support of the alleged ‘protests’ blocking uninterrupted free movement along the Lachin Corridor in both directions” and “immediately fully restore and refrain from disrupting or impeding the provision of natural gas and other public utilities to Nagorno-Karabakh.” The ICJ rejected those provisional measures. 

The ICJ also rejected a request for provisional measures ordering Armenia to halt any efforts to plant mines in territories that came under Azerbaijani control at the end of the 2020 Artsakh War, including “the use of the Lachin Corridor for this purpose.” Azerbaijan requested that Armenia provide information about the quantity and location of landmines and booby traps and allow Azerbaijan to demine these territories.  

Azerbaijan presented a similar request to the ICJ in December 2021. The ICJ rejected that request on the grounds that it did not have enough evidence that Armenia’s alleged conduct violated the rights of Azerbaijani people under international law. It rejected the new request made by Azerbaijan on January 4, 2023 on the same grounds. 

Armenia argued in the Hague court that it lay mines exclusively within its border for self-defense purposes. It said that booby traps had been found “within the old Lachin Corridor,” which came under Azerbaijani control after its route was changed in September 2022. 

In the weeks before closing the Lachin Corridor, Azerbaijani authorities accused Armenia of using the route to conduct prohibited activities. On November 24, 2022, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said that Armenia buried mines in Artsakh transported along the Lachin Corridor.

“The corridor is not being used for its intended purpose, and this must be stopped,” Bayramov told reporters, warning that Azerbaijan “will take all necessary steps.”  

The closure of the Lachin Corridor, which surpassed 70 days this week, has created a humanitarian crisis in Artsakh. The daily import of about 400 tons of basic goods from Armenia has stopped, leading to a critical shortage of food and medicine. Artsakh residents have been using government-issued coupons to purchase sugar, rice, buckwheat, pasta, oil, fruits, vegetables, eggs and laundry detergent, as part of the authorities’ effort to conserve remaining supplies. 

The gas and electricity supply to Artsakh have also been periodically disrupted throughout the course of the blockade, which Artsakh authorities blame on Azerbaijan. Families have been unable to heat their homes amid freezing winter temperatures. The government has distributed wood burning stoves to 700 families as an alternative. 

It has also been difficult to heat hospitals properly due to the gas and electricity disruptions. At least 700 people have been unable to receive medical treatment due to the temporary suspension of all surgeries. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has transported over 100 patients to Armenia for medical procedures. 

Azerbaijani authorities continue to insist that the Lachin Corridor is unblocked, since the ICRC and Russian peacekeepers have been able to use the route. 

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that checkpoints should be established along the Lachin Corridor as well as along a route connecting Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhichevan through Armenia. He proposed the idea during a trilateral meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Munich Security Conference on February 18. 

“Checkpoints should be established at both ends of the Zangezur corridor and the border between the Lachin district and Armenia,” Aliyev told reporters. 

Under the trilateral ceasefire agreement ending the 2020 Artsakh War, Azerbaijan guaranteed “traffic safety along the Lachin Corridor of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions.” The ceasefire agreement also commits Armenia to providing a transport link between Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. The route should allow for “unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions.”

Aliyev has drawn parallels between the Lachin Corridor and the route to Nakhichevan, which he calls the “Zangezur Corridor.” He has said that the route should operate free of passport and customs controls. Armenian authorities have called a corridor without Armenian presence a “red line,” insisting that the route must respect the sovereignty of Armenia’s borders. 

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan rejected Aliyev’s call for checkpoints along the Lachin Corridor. He said that the principles regulating the Lachin Corridor were fixed by the ceasefire agreement. 

“The renegotiation of the regulations of the Lachin Corridor, by the way again as a result of use of force, is not and can not be an acceptable solution for us,” Mirzoyan told reporters on February 22. 

Armenian authorities have said that one of the motivations behind Azerbaijan’s closure of the Lachin Corridor is to pressure Armenia to agree to the “Zangezur Corridor.”

Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, said that the blockade is within Azerbaijan’s “so-called corridor logic.” “Naturally, that’s what all this pressure in Lachin is about,” Grigoryan said.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.
Lillian Avedian

@LillianAvedian

Master's candidate in journalism and Near Eastern studies at NYU | Words in @armenianweekly, @DAWN_Journal, @girls_key and @LAReviewofBooks
RT @ANCA_DC: When NY @RepGraceMeng heard 2 of her constituents were caught behind Azerbaijan's #ArtsakhBlockade, she took action - working… - 1 month ago
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24 Comments

  1. First of all, take off the stupid masks. Second of all, OR WHAT??? This is another useless and powerless HOT AIR announcement against Azerbaijan. Armenia keeps getting punched in the face and the only thing it can do is tell the teacher who doesn’t do anything. What if they don’t unblock Lachin (which they won’t)? If Armenia had any power, it would solve its problems through the use of its powerful military. Too bad it is a weak, poor, underpopulated, and corrupt country. Sorry–not sorry. We are speaking the truth here. Thirty years of corruption, mismanagement, bribery, nepotism, division, tax evasion, and even MURDER are the reason why Armenia is on its knees over and over, begging the world again, for help.

    • You are right. The population flees to Glendale so that they can put Defend Artsakh decals on their cars and drive around. Laughable. With the traitor pashinyan at the helm the losses keep piling up. Just look at him, does he look like a hero? No.

    • An oversimplification of a complex problem, but much of what Martin said is true. Reducing the situation to the internal politics of Armenia is ridiculously oversimplified.

    • I think there is a lot more to this other than some of the points you made. It is true that the corruption by the officials over the years had played a major role in the outcome of the latest undeclared terroristic war imposed on the Armenians, once again, but this time planned, provoked, initiated and dictated by NATO member terrorist Turkey, right under Russia’s nose, on militarily incompetent Azerbaijan’s behalf. There is a reason why Azerbaijan could not do anything in thirty years, despite its petrodollar wealth, and had to get terrorist Turkey involved in this conflict directly and militarily unlike the past war, the victorious Artsakh Liberation War of 1990, which was fought between the two sides on their own more or less.

      I think incompetent Pashinyan and his dysfunctional government played a major role in the disastrous outcome of the latest war. Once he seized power with his fake ‘Velvet Revolution’ which was nothing but a regime change, he retired all the battle-hardened military generals and the officials who had fought in the 1990 victorious war and replaced them with unqualified military leaders subservient to his authority. Based on some of my research, several former military officials who planned and participated in the liberation of Artsakh and its cultural center Shushi, but only in advisory position in Pashinyan’s government and with no military authority, had devised plans of preemptive attack on the enemy knowing full well what path the enemy had to take to enter Shushi because they had already done that themselves thirty years prior and Pashinyan’s military leaders scrapped it hours before it was to go into action. There are also satellite photos of enemy battalions nearby taken by the Armenian side without any counteraction to destroy and wipe out the enemy which they could. There are many other conspiracy theories about how this war was handled by this unpatriotic sorry excuse for leaders. Pashinyan never served in the military. How is it possible to hand over power to someone like him in a country that had been in a state of war for the last thirty years? It does not make any sense to me.

      I think the blockade of the Berdzor corridor (Բերձորի միջանցք) falsely known as ‘Lachin corridor’ happened because of the weaknesses shown by this unpatriotic leader. The Russians had a hand in too it for sure. The Russians have wedged themselves in-between the two sides, as so-called peacekeepers with no authority for use of force unless attacked, and based on their past handling of very tense and critical situations it is evident that they are not acting neutrally. In many ways, they are there to punish the Armenian side for their perceived Pashinyan’s pro-Western policies. Armenians are unable to defend themselves against Azerbaijani criminals because of the Russians and the Russians won’t engage the Azerbaijani criminals which further emboldens the enemy to continue to suppress the Armenian side with impunity. There are cases where the Russian peacekeepers force the Armenian side back creating a vacuum for the Azerbaijani side to move forward and take over.

      Things won’t change for the better until this dysfunctional and unpatriotic government is gone and the country is cleaned of all internal enemies and corruption!

  2. Oh…. the ICC. A puppet institution of little worth. The fact that it exists is disturbing. They feel like they have extrajudicial reach.

  3. As with the Genocide, Turkey and the blood brothers in Azerbaijan will not be held accountable and there will be no penalty for their criminal actions. Sadly, following the examples of Israel and North Korea, it may come to pass that Armenia and Artsakh’s only recourse is to develop weapons of mass destruction (nuclear warheads) as the only deterrent against the Turkic countries.

    • Not sadly but joyfully. I look forward to the day when we have nuclear weapons and the will to use them. Only then our two terrorist and genocidal neighboring states, both created artificially by destruction and displacement of the indigenous populations and seizure of their ancestral homelands, will sober up and come to their senses. They have a very large appetite for other people’s properties and we must put an end to that by any and all means at our disposal. Followed by retaliation for their crimes and the liberation of every inch of Armenian territory under their occupation.

    • Do not forger western countries blame armenia havin good relations with lran also lf lran make nuclear weapons nato will allow turks to have nuclear weapon to make balance against lran if we armenia choose our side along to lran we must forget western help or be like lsrael then armenians in arab states will be open target for radicals

    • As an aside it seems likely the mask rule (which is rather passe now) in the ICJ is because they are one world government creeps. If Iran with far more resources has trouble reaching nuclear power then for Armenia its delusional and such unattainable fantasies only give false hope and the despondency of reality. Also as for nuclear weapons whilst there the big stick aspect if nuclear weapons are never ever used then they become a grave folly. Not to mention a nuclear arms race either! Turkey which is likely to be resentful of Iranian nuclear weapons cannot have a programme of its own as a NATO member. Putin’s Russia that likes to be all things to everyone finds itself nothing to no one. To the Armenians it has let them down to the Azeris its interfering in their country, not a basis for sustainable creditablity and its Ukraine problems further that greatly. Whilst Pashinyan might have thrown Armenian defence, those with commanding experience of the 1991 – 94 conflict where likely to have been an old guard and experts in the last war. Far too many Armenians thought before 2020 because they had won against the odds it meant that they would be able to do it again on that basis. Also there is the victor syndrome where there isn’t the incentive to modernise whereas the defeated is more open to new ideas.

  4. Having nuclear warheads is one thing then you have to be able to launch them. You’ll need a rocket program. Armenia is also a signatory to the treaty which gives it many advantages. You’ll loose all those for starters. Also news will get out and it will create a mess. Azeri will attack. Russia won’t allow it anyways, aren’t the plants controlled by Russia? Armenians should focus on their birth rates. Government can offer incentives for child birth, etc. Your just in a bad location geographically. Look at things from the bright side, how many people’s have come and gone but you guys are still around? Everything can suddenly get better the conditions just have to be right. IMO you should focus on the future, work your butts off and make Armenia a better nation.

  5. If there is one country in the world that deserves a nuclear deterrent, it is Armenia who faced and continues to face total extermination, but how delusional are we to believe the world powers will allow that to happen? The wiser course of action is to rid Armenia of traitors, reduce corruption, and have realistic diplomacy that serves the best interests of the Armenian Nation, and this includes having good relations with diaspora for practical repatriation and growth.

    Those that criticize the past leaders are still in denial that, while they were corrupt and thieves, the close relations to Russia prevented Turkey and Azerbaijan attacking Armenia. Why is it any surprise or causing anger that Putin and Russia decided to abandon the Armenian people when its citizens decided to vote, twice, for a government led by Pashinyan that is anti-Russia and going above and beyond to weaken Armenia?

    Is it any coincidence that the blockade started shortly after Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia? What did we get in return from that visit besides continuing to anger Russia? After her crocodile tears session at the genocide memorial, she headed to congress waiving the Artsakh flag and sent billions in aid. Oh, that’s right, that was for Ukraine.

    When you follow the enemies of Armenia, you will find policy papers about the dissolution of the Russian Federation and NATO/Turkish control of the Caucasus region. That is what they want to happen in the immediate decades and are terrified of a powerful Russia, and China. Throughout history Armenians have been used and abused, and yet most of us still do not get it. Go all the way back to the time of the genocide when Jews were coveting Palestine from the Ottomans to the Europeans coveting the Caucasian and Caspian natural resources.

    When will Armenians finally wake up to the sad reality that our enemies are not only Turks, but Western powers, Europeans, Americans, etc. They may not hate us, but they do not care for us, and use us to achieve their goals. History repeats and you find it again and again, including the Crusaders who killed Armenians too, but rarely do you hear that part of the story. It annoys me to no end when most Armenians and organizations mention Christianity as if that has any relevance.

    We can disappear tomorrow without a care in the world. They only cater to us with the illusion and theater of support because most politicians like to get votes from the vast diaspora. Sorry to shatter the false reality of assimilated and brainwashed Armenians. The genocide continues with each new passing generation.

    • There’re signed agreements between Armenia & Russia, as well as between Armenia & CSTO; in both cases Armenia’s allies failed to honor the alliance agreements, whether we’re talking about th 2020 War, but certainly since then, Russia and the CSTO refuse to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its sins. You might ask, “What sins?” Well for starters, how about the invasion of UN recognized Armenia, in 2022, or the failure to hold Azerbaijan accountable for besieging Artsakh’s logistical connections to the outside world. Russia is like an abusive husband, threatening terrible things.

    • Are you slow in the head?

      Yes the fantastic previous leaders which bled the country of a million people? Yes, that’s exemplary nation building.

      The blockade wasn’t shortly after Pelosis visit, but 3 months later. It was that visit which cemented US commitment to blocking further Azeri incursions into Armenia proper.

      You know what preceded the lachin blockade? Russian troops laying the red carpet for then. You know what preceded the September incursions? Russians laying the red carpet for them.

      Grow up

    • @ Concerned Armenian
      Remember if Armenia was to unify with Russia as you so earnestly support the prospect of that Yerevan as a regional capital would automatically divolve its foreign policies to Moscow who has fairly good; full diplomatic relationships with Ankara and Baku – an unexpected change for Armenia. It was Moscow who signed away western Armenia to Turkey and assigned Arktash to Azerbaijan as they apparently know Armenias interests better than Armenians. Pashinyan “the anti Russia” might be selling out to Turkey and Azerbaijan but as Russia has cordial relations with both anyway what is the difference?
      Armenian Christianity came from Syria and Georgian Christianity is closest to it
      Armenians are closest racially to the Greeks
      Armenians closest neighbouring people are the Iranians

      There is no reason for Armenia to define its identity like Ukraine is currently doing but no reason to infatuate with Russia either

  6. Levon, you are right about Armenian destiny and what it caused. Finally, somebody gave a sincere explanation!

    • When you defend a country to defend yourself you are not an ally in the true sense of the word. It is just that your interests overlap with those of the country you have no choice but to defend. The relationship between Iran and Armenia can realistically be characterized as the proverbial the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Iran and Armenia have the same Turkish and pseudo-Turkish enemies in common. Iran has no choice but to defend Armenia by defending the territorial integrity of Armenia because Armenia stands as a wall between our and their common enemies acting as an obstacle in their unification which Iran has to try to avoid at any cost. Even though the majority of a sizable Turkish-speaking Iranian nationals are fully integrated into the Iranian society there is still a sizable separatist minority among them that under right conditions can pose a threat to Iran. As a reminder, during the 2020 joint Turkish-Azerbaijani undeclared terroristic war on the Armenians, the slogan of this separatist group inside Iran was ‘Rus, Fars, Ermeni Azerbaijan dushmani’ which basically says the enemies of Azerbaijan are the Russians, the Persians and the Armenians.

      Furthermore, the foreign ambassador of your TRUE ally, Javad Zarif at the time, would not have congratulated your enemy’s terrorist-in-chief Aliyev the chicken-hawk ‘khan’ of Baku for his seizure of liberated Armenian territories on his first visit to Baku after the war which coward Aliyev, who was MIA in the 1990s war, bought and paid with petrodollars. He would have abstained from making such a remark and remained neutral in the least. The real reason why today Iran is so determined and has militarily displayed its commitment to its words against Azerbaijani demands and aggression in the Iran-Armenia border region, other than defending its own interests, is because of the close relations between the criminal and morally-bankrupt Azerbaijani and Israeli leaderships, Israel today replacing Russia for most weapons deliveries to Azerbaijan, and the military presence of Israel on Azerbaijani-occupied Armenian territories in the south bordering Iran and that primarily for the purpose of taking out Iranian nuclear facilities.

      Last but not least, for the leadership of the Islamic republic of Iran ‘karabakh’ is neither Armenian nor Azerbaijani land. It is ‘Islamic land’ whatever the heck that means which in many ways reminds me of the recent conversion of 4th century Basilica of Eastern Orthodox Christianity into a mosque, the Greek Hagia Sophia in occupied Constantinople, by the Islamo-fascist Turkish mullah and terrorist-in-chief Erdogan. Let’s not fool ourselves!

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