Duty to Act

AYF Washington DC “Ani” chapter member Hovsep Seferian delivering his speech in front of the Turkish Consulate to the United Nations.

Editor’s Note: The following speech was delivered by AYF Washington DC “Ani” Chapter member Hovsep Seferian on April 14 outside the Turkish Consulate to the United Nations.

Seventy-seven years ago, representatives from 50 countries met in San Francisco in the hopes of healing a broken world after World War II. The United Nations was born out of the interests of peace and cooperation, to ensure that nothing like the Second World War would ever happen again. On that fateful day in California, the purposes of the United Nations were made clear through the UN Charter, which cites them as, among others, “maintaining international peace and security, collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace,” “respect of self determination” and “solving international problems of humanitarian character.”

Allowing Azerbaijan to violate human rights left and right with no consequences, consistent silence on border breaches and clear invasion attempts of Armenia proper, and a complete disregard for the people of Artsakh’s right to self determination does not sound like adherence to those aforementioned founding principles to me. How can the premier body for the “maintenance of international peace and security” abandon its values at a time when the world stands on its most precarious precipice since the beginning of the war that caused this organization’s inception? The world may feel like Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan are inconsequential to those outside of the area, but history tells us otherwise. This ignorance has already cost thousands of lives, and history teaches us that inaction toward this dictatorial imperialism will only cause more of the like to spawn elsewhere. In fact, it is the League of Nations’ inaction toward this exact sentiment that caused World War II in the first place. The world, in the state that we are currently in, cannot afford for the UN to become another League.

This world needs action, and it is the UN’s duty to provide it. The 120,000 people in Artsakh, starving to death under a blockade need action, and it is the UN’s duty to provide it. It is a duty that they have placed upon themselves, and one with no excuse to shy away from. In his address to the signatory delegates, President Harry Truman said, “We were not isolated during the war. We dare not now become isolated in peace.” President Truman is turning in his grave seeing the institution he was referencing isolating the world’s first Christian nation and its people to be the subjects of their second genocide since the turn of the 20th century. This isolation goes against everything the United Nations claims to stand for and will only encourage similar actions across the globe. If the United Nations cannot combat this terror, this genocide, these war crimes by directly and unequivocally sanctioning the Azerbaijani perpetrators and providing immediate assistance to the Armenian people suffering as a consequence of Aliyev’s aggression, then how can it claim to be able to fight injustice anywhere else in the world?

To quote the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres, “The United Nations must focus on delivery rather than process…on people rather than bureaucracy.” This “delivery” has been shockingly absent for the people of Armenia and the people of Artsakh. It is in the best interests of the lives of the innocent, peace in the Caucasus and peace throughout the world that the United Nations uphold the responsibilities it has placed upon itself. Should this inaction continue, it foreshadows a dark path that we’ve seen traveled before. It is time to wake up, to learn from the mistakes of the past and to make those founding delegates proud. Their work will not be for naught. Their work cannot be for naught, as the fate of tens of thousands, and very possibly hundreds of thousands more, as well as the reputation and ability of our world’s biggest body of peace lies on the shoulders of today’s action.

Hovsep Seferian

Hovsep Seferian

Hovsep Seferian is a first-year student at the University of Virginia studying Foreign Affairs. He credits William Saroyan and Hrant Dink as his biggest writing inspirations.
Hovsep Seferian

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