1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

UN court orders Azerbaijan to end Nagorno-Karabakh roadblock

February 22, 2023

Armenia had told the court 120,000 people were running short of food, medicine and fuel due to the blockade of the disputed territory. The Lachin corridor is the only road between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Military posts on the front line in the Lachin Corridor, near the village of Aravus.
The Lachin Corridor is the only road into Nagorno-Karabakh from ArmeniaImage: Gilles Bader/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday ordered Azerbaijan to end its blockade in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The court reached the legally binding ruling after a 13-2 vote.

Since mid-December, a group of Azerbaijanis have blocked the Lachin corridor, which is the only road into Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia. The group cited illegal mining causing environmental damage as the reason for its protest blocking access to the region.

The two countries in the Caucasus fought over the disputed region in the 1990s and again in 2020. Following the latter of the two wars, a Russian-brokered truce saw Armenia cede territories to Azerbaijan.

Earlier this month, Armenia offered a peace plan to Azerbaijan, aiming to definitively resolve the territorial dispute.

What did the ICJ say about the blocked Lachin corridor?

"Azerbaijan shall, pending the final decision in this case... take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions," presiding judge Joan Donoghue said.

"The disruption on the Lachin Corridor has impeded the transfer of persons of Armenian national and ethnic origin," she said.

Donoghue said that there had been "shortages of food, medicine and other life-saving medical supplies" in Nagorno-Karabakh due to the roadblock. She added that there was a "risk that irreparable prejudice will be caused."

The court also pointed to a 2021 ruling in which UN judges ordered both states to do everything possible not to escalate the conflict.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said Yerevan welcomed the ruling that "Azerbaijan must take all measures to end its blockade and ensure unimpeded movement of persons."

"We are also pleased to see truth prevail as the Court rejected in full Azerbaijan's counter request."

Map showing Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh

What are the accusations against Azerbaijan?

Armenia last month told the court that some 120,000 people had been running short of food, medicine and fuel due to the blockade, adding that people could not be transported to area hospitals.

Yerevan also accused Azerbaijan of committing "ethnic cleansing" in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Baku denied the allegations and filed a counter-claim against Yerevan, accusing Armenia of laying landmines and "murdering and maiming Azerbaijanis." In its Wednesday ruling, the ICJ said that Baku did not show that the landmines specifically targeted Azerbaijanis.

sdi/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)