Today, the Save Karabakh Coalition called on Ignazio Cassis, the head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, to use Switzerland’s presidency of the UN Security Council to help the besieged people of Nagorno Karabakh.
A demonstration in Stepanakert on 9 May 2023 against the blockade of Nagorno Karabakh. Artsakh Info Center
For over five months – since December 12 – this region, home to an ancient community of 120,000 Armenian Christians, has been under siege by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has blocked off the region from all air or land transport, and cut its electricity and gas lines. Azerbaijani snipers regularly attack Armenian farmers trying to grow food locally.
Food, fuel, and medical supplies in Nagorno Karabakh have dwindled to dangerous lows because of the blockade, and many prominent observers have warned that a humanitarian crisis is imminent. On December 19, a group of ten human rights organizations issued a collective Genocide Warning for Nagorno Karabakh, due to Azerbaijan’s blockade and the exterminationist rhetoric directed at Armenian Christians by Azerbaijan’s leaders.
In an open letter to Cassis, the Save Karabakh Coalition called on him to “use the few weeks remaining in [his] Presidency of the UN Security Council to guide through a resolution” to “protect the vulnerable Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh” and recognize their right to self-determination.
In February, the Coalition’s letter noted, the Foreign Affairs Committee of Switzerland’s Council of States adopted a resolution calling on Switzerland to work at the UN Security Council for a resolution that would force an end to the blockade and provide for an international humanitarian airlift to Nagorno Karabakh.
The Coalition urged Cassis to use the Foreign Affairs Committee’s resolution as a “policy framework” for action at the UN Security Council.
Switzerland was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the first time in 2023. It holds the presidency of the council for the month of May.
The Save Karabakh Coalition was launched in January in response to Azerbaijan’s deadly blockade of the Nagorno Karabakh.
The following members of the coalition signed the letter to Federal Councillor Cassis: Christian Solidarity International (whose worldwide headquarters are in Zürich), the Baroness Caroline Cox and Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust in the United Kingdom, and in the United States, Genocide Watch, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, In Defense of Christians, the Philos Project, American Friends of Kurdistan, the Hellenic American Leadership Council, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian National Committee of America, the Armenian Bar Association, Justin Murff of the Anglican Office for Government and International Affairs, David L. Phillips of Columbia University, and Sheila Paylan, an international human rights lawyer.