Baku opened the case at the International Court of Justice, claiming that Yerevan has breached a UN treaty and still continues its policy of 'ethnic cleansing'.

Rescuers work at the scene of damage after shelling by Armenian's artillery during fighting over Upper Karabakh, in Ganja, Azerbaijan, on October 11, 2020.
Rescuers work at the scene of damage after shelling by Armenian's artillery during fighting over Upper Karabakh, in Ganja, Azerbaijan, on October 11, 2020. (AP)

Azerbaijan has launched its case accusing neighbour Armenia of racial discrimination and "ethnic cleansing" before the UN's top court, in a bitter tit for tat international court battle.

Baku's claim comes just a week after Armenia lodged a similar case before the Hague-based International Court of Justice.

"Armenia has engaged and is continuing to engage in a series of discriminatory acts against Azerbaijanis on the basis of their 'national or ethnic' origin," Azerbaijan said in its filing before the court.

Echoing Armenia's case against Baku, Azerbaijan said Yerevan has breached a UN treaty, the International Convention of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

"Through both direct and indirect means, Armenia continues its policy of ethnic cleansing," Azerbaijan said.

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'Violence against Azerbaijanis'

Armenia "incites hatred and ethnic violence against Azerbaijanis by engaging in hate speech and disseminating racist propaganda, including at the highest levels of its government," it said.

The ICJ was set up after World War II to rule on disputes between United Nations member states. Cases usually take years to reach a conclusion.

"Armenia once again targeted Azerbaijanis for brutal treatment motivated by ethnic hatred," Baku said, referring to the hostilities.

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Baku asked the ICJ to institute emergency measures to "protect Azerbaijanis" while the case was being heard.

Both sides have long traded accusations of rights abuses, including in last year's war.

In February, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan both addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council over their claims that the other side violated international law.

Armenia accused Azerbaijani forces of targeting civilian infrastructure and destroying Armenian cultural and religious heritage.

In December, Amnesty International urged Baku and Yerevan to urgently probe "war crimes" committed by both sides during the fighting.

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Tense relations

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

New clashes erupted last September and ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire on November 10, 2020.

During a subsequent 44-day conflict which ended under a deal signed on November 10, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 illegal settlements and villages from nearly three-decade Armenian occupation.

The ceasefire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces withdrew in line with the agreement.

A joint Turkish-Russian centre was established to monitor the truce. 

Russian peacekeeping troops have also been deployed in the region.

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Source: AFP