ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DESTRUCTION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE: THE CASE OF JUGHA
Violation of Articles 13 and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Overwhelming evidence indicates that the Azerbaijani armed forces are responsible for the destruction of the Armenian medieval Necropolis in Jugha (Julfa) in December 2005. Despite this, the international community, including UNESCO, has neither assessed this destruction nor condemned or sanctioned it. The Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) underlines that these acts of hatred are in violation of the principles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (hereinafter referred to as the «Covenant»), mainly expressed in the preamble as well as in the Articles 13 and 15 of the Covenant. International organizations are committed to the protection of universal values concerning cultural heritage. OSCE Member States have, for instance, adopted a wide range of commitments to combating such crimes, including the condemnation of violent acts motivated by discrimination and intolerance. In addition, these States have also conducted response training of security-relevant officials and other public civil servants, reviewed legislation, facilitated the capacity of civil society to monitor hate-motivated incidents and assisted victims. These tangible commitments have been taken in recognition of the fact that hate crimes pose a potential threat to domestic and international security, as they undermine social cohesion and plant the seeds of violence. Yet, SAA cannot but notice that the destruction of the Jugha Necropolis has remained a matter of indifference for the civil society in Azerbaijan at large and for international organizations. Research has proven that an effective prevention of such acts is dependent on a consequential identification, legal prosecution and punishment supported by the development of a range of information and educational skills. This approach is applicable in cases where infringements involve individuals or groups, but not in cases where there is a direct or indirect institutional involvement. By not recognizing and, consequently, not taking responsibility for such acts, the international community runs the risk of siding unintentionally with hate-motivated perpetrators.
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