Armenia Parliament to consider ratifying Rome Statute News
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Armenia Parliament to consider ratifying Rome Statute

Armenian state news agency Armenpress reported Friday that the country’s parliament will consider ratifying the Rome Statute.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the treaty that established the ICC. Armenia signed the Rome Statute in October 1999 but has not ratified it. In 2004, Armenia’s Constitutional Court found that the Rome Statute did not comply with the country’s 1995 constitution. However, in December 2022, Armenia took steps to ratify the Rome Statute anyway. The following month, the Constitutional Court took up the case for consideration, and in March 2023, the court found the Rome Statute was in compliance with the newly amended Armenian Constitution.

Armenian Minister of Justice Grigor Minasyan said it was necessary to ratify the Rome Statute due to what he calls military aggression by neighboring country Azerbaijan.

Minasyan stated that the Rome Statute must be ratified because “the risk of new Azerbaijani military aggression against Armenia remains high” and “the Azeri crimes, including war crimes committed in Armenia” being subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC would be a “preventative and restraining measure against Azerbaijan.” Azerbaijan has not signed or ratified the Rome Statute.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been involved in a violent dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh (also called Artsakh), an ethnically Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan internationally recognized as being Azerbaijan’s territory. The border between Armenia and Azerbaijan was established during the dissolution of the USSR. Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence from Azerbaijan as the Republic of Artsakh in September 1991 due to what it called “apartheid and discrimination” by the Azerbaijani government. Artsakh is recognized by some US states as an independent country even though it is not recognized by the US federal government.

A letter by Azerbaijan’s representative to the UN described Armenia as unleashing “full-scale war” against Azerbaijan in 1992. The UN Security Council condemned the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh but resolved to remain “actively seized” of the matter. Following the conflict in the 1990s, Azerbaijan exercised its “inherent right to self-defense” in September 2020, taking more than 300 settlements from Artsakh, which claimed the lives of at least 7,272 soldiers.

While both nations had agreed to a ceasefire after the 2020 conflict, Azerbaijan invaded Armenia in September 2022. Reuters reported that the September 2022 conflict ended in a ceasefire, but on Friday, Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Azerbaijan opened fire on Armenian armed forces, killing three.

The move to ratify the Rome Statute means Russian President Vladimir Putin would not be allowed into the country as Armenian forces would be required to detain him. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin, who helped broker the 2020 ceasefire between the two formerly-Soviet nations, in March.