UCLA panel on Atrocities, Genocide and the Duty to Prevent and to Punish under International Law

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA Law, in partnership with the Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, will present a panel discussion entitled “Atrocities, Genocide and the Duty to Prevent and to Punish Under International Law: The Situation of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh.” The panel will take place on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, at 7 p.m. (Pacific Time) at the UCLA Mong Learning Center (Engineering VI Building) and via the Zoom Webinar platform.

On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan launched a military operation against the already-suffering people of Artsakh, who had been under a blockade for nearly 300 days, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries. This tragic situation became an overt initiation of wholesale, violent ethnic cleansing, and while a ceasefire agreement may be in place, threats to the safety and security of the ethnic Armenians in this region continue as the population evacuates their ancestral homeland.

Looking at the situation in Artsakh with respect to the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor blockade, as well as the recent active military attacks in Artsakh and the threats to Armenia generally, this panel will explore the following key questions, drawing from action taken thus far by states and international actors (or not):

  • What conditions trigger the duty to prevent atrocities, including genocide?
  • Once triggered, what is the scope of that duty, and what tools, both national and international, can help to identify these obligations as well as lawful steps for addressing a genocidal situation?
  • How can accountability for atrocities be achieved in this situation?

This panel will also assess how concurrent litigation before the Inernational Court of Justice intersects with these questions and further explore the extent to which lack of labeling or action with respect to the risk of genocide is due, in part, to a lack of clarity regarding the duty to prevent and punish genocide under international law.

The panel will be moderated by Professor Hannah Garry, executive director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights, expert signatory to the submission to the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, and will feature Dr. Taner Akçam, inaugural director of the Armenian Genocide Research Program of The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA; Professor Thomas Becker, legal and policy director of The University Network for Human Rights, Columbia Law School and Wesleyan University, author of the briefing “The Tip of the Iceberg” on the Lachin/Berdzor Corridor blockade; Professor Juan Méndez, American University Washington College of Law, first U.N. Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide, author of a “Preliminary Opinion” on the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh and the need to prevent atrocity crimes; and Sheila Paylan, international law, human rights and gender expert and director of the Armenian Women’s Bar Association Board of Directors.

Registration for this event is required and free. Please visit the event registration webpage to sign up for in-person or virtual attendance. The panel will conclude with a small reception in the foyer. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Armenian Students’ Association at UCLA, Jewish World Watch, UCLA Initiative to Study Hate, UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, and University Network for Human Rights.

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