Press Release on the first formal proceedings in arbitration filed by Azerbaijan against Armenia for widespread environmental destruction

On 12 April 2024 the Peace Palace at the Hague hosted the first formal proceedings in Azerbaijan’s claim within inter-state arbitration under the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.

The mentioned first arbitration ever was launched by Azerbaijan on 18 January 2023 based on wide range of evidences about the widespread environmental destruction caused by Armenia during its thirty-year illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories.

Upon liberating its territories in 2020, Azerbaijan uncovered shocking evidence of Armenia’s destruction of, and failure to protect, the environment.

Armenia’s actions caused severe harm to the area’s natural habitats and species, depleted natural resources, and destroyed biodiversity.

Armenia’s widespread deforestation, unsustainable logging, and pollution through significant environmentally irresponsible and illegal construction and mining activities in forest regions – including in what had been protected nature reserves prior to Armenia’s illegal occupation in 1991 – has put more than 500 wildlife species at risk in Azerbaijan.

Until today, Armenia continues to harm biodiversity and living nature in our territories by polluting the transboundary rivers flowing from its territory to the territory of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan’s legal action makes specific claims against Armenia in areas such as legal obligations to maintain populations of all wild flora and fauna; ensure conservation, restoration and improvements to the habitats of wild flora and fauna; and taking steps to protect species listed by the Convention, including migratory species as a priority.

In the arbitration, Azerbaijan asked the distinguished tribunal to order Armenia to cease all ongoing violations of the Bern Convention and pay full reparation for its environmental destruction.

This arbitration will set an important precedent as a landmark step in environmental litigation-making and that the international legal obligations imposed on States related to biodiversity truly effective. It is also a serious effort to secure justice.

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