Extensive military operations are now underway in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan with a majority Armenian population. With Turkey involved on the side of Azerbaijan, and Russia with a military base in Armenia, the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has the potential to develop into a regional war.
– Since the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict there has been a failure to enforce accountability for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. In our view, impunity is a main driver behind the conflicts in the former Soviet Union. Impunity is why conflicts simmer for decades, and where the Caucasus differs from the warzones of the Balkans. When crimes are not punished, but result in political and financial dividends, the threshold for going to war is low, writes acting secretary general Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal in a letter to the Norwegian foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee consequently asks the Norwegian government to take the initiative to establish an international commission of inquiry, if possible, under the auspices of the OSCE or the Council of Europe, which can gather information and document possible international crimes. The EU established such a commission after the war between Georgia and Russia in 2008. It gained importance when the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation into war crimes in 2016.
The full letter to the Norwegian foreign minister can be read here. We will also share this English version of the letter with foreign ministers in the Nordic countries, and also in some of the leading European countries.