World Court to hear Azerbaijan and Armenia objections to discrimination cases

FILE PHOTO: CIS heads of state visit the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum and Reserve in Saint Petersburg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) -The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hear objections by Azerbaijan and Armenia in related cases in which the Caucasus neighbours accuse each other of violating a U.N. anti-discrimination treaty in April, the court announced on Friday.

Each side accuses the other of ethnic cleansing.

Armenia filed the case against Azerbaijan in 2021. Azerbaijan then filed a rival claim accusing Armenia of violating the same treaty. Now both states have filed legal objections to the other's case which will be heard from April 15-16.

In November last year, the court issued emergency measures in Armenia's case ordering Azerbaijan to let ethnic Armenians who fled the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave last September return.

Last year Azerbaijan recaptured the region, then controlled by its ethnic Armenian majority despite being internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

The lightning offensive, after decades of enmity between Baku and Yerevan, prompted the mass exodus of most of the region's 120,000 ethnic Armenians across the border to Armenia.

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing. Azerbaijan says it has pledged to ensure all residents’ safety and security, regardless of national or ethnic origin, and that it has not forced ethnic Armenians to leave Karabakh.

Azerbaijan in its case says Armenia is carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign against Azeris.

The April hearings will cover legal objections to the jurisdiction of the ICJ and will not go into the merits of the discrimination claims.

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the United Nations top court for resolving disputes between countries.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by William Maclean and Nick Macfie)