Criminalization of Ecocide: Impetus towards Armenia’s International Responsibility

The deliberate and extensive destruction of Azerbaijan’s environment during nearly thirty years of Armenian occupation makes Armenia responsible under international law. Considering the fact that Armenia committed these illegal actions with the understanding that there is a high probability of severe and long-term damage to the environment being caused by them, this represents an ipso facto (by the fact itself) ecocide, the definition of which was recently provided by international legal experts in order to criminalize this conduct under international law. Against this background, this article provides analysis of the existing legal framework and Armenia’s obligations under international law for environmental damage in the liberated (formerly occupied) territories of Azerbaijan, with an overview of the current worldwide initiatives on criminalization of ecocide alongside other recognized international crimes, as well as the challenges and implications of this process. The author also touches upon the issue of individual criminal responsibility of Armenians for the perpetration of war crimes, as well as inter-state arbitration under the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.

Authors: Najiba Mustafayeva