The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected a Turkish request to rescind a ruling urging all states involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to avoid putting civilians at risk and to respect their obligations to respect human rights under a European convention.
The Strasbourg-based ECHR's decision, outlined in a press release on October 14, was a response to an Armenian request after the start of the latest outbreak of fighting in the breakaway region. Yerevan on September 28 requested that the Court take action known as an interim measure against Azerbaijan in order to stop what it felt could be the targeting of the civilian population and civilian settlements along the Line Of Contact between the two sides.
The ECHR on September 29 issued an interim measure saying that "the current situation gives rise to a risk of serious violations of the [European] Convention [on Human Rights]" and called upon both Azerbaijan and Armenia "to refrain from taking any measures, in particular military action, which might entail breaches of the Convention rights of the civilian population, including putting their life and health at risk, and to comply with their engagements under the Convention." On October 6, the court reissued the interim measure, based on what it said was evidence indicating that "certain Contracting States (participating in the European Convention on Human Rights) were directly or indirectly involved in the conflict." Although it was not addressed solely to Turkey, but to all the states concerned, the reissued measure prompted Ankara to request on October 7 that the court reconsider its decision, arguing that it was directed against the Turkish state.
Turkey has sided with Azerbaijan in the conflict over the separatist region controlled by ethnic Armenians backed by Yerevan, saying that mediation led by France, the United States, and Russia was stalling and that Nagorno-Karabakh must be given back to Azerbaijan.
The court said on October 14 that the serious escalation in the conflict and the danger it posed to civilians prompted it to reject Turkey's request and declined to rescind its October 6 ruling. "Having examined the objections expressed by the Government of Turkey and again taking account of the serious and escalating nature of the conflict, the Court does not find any reason to amend its decision or to lift any part of the interim measure previously indicated." The statement reiterated that the interim measure represented "an urgent action in situations where it perceives an imminent risk of irreparable harm" to civilians, but added that it could be amended in future if the situation improves. "The indication is of a provisional nature and does not prejudge any subsequent examinations as to the admissibility and merits of the case in question which would be made in adversarial proceedings," the statement said. Both sides say that scores of civilians have been killed in the conflict along with hundreds of troops.