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UN's top court rules Armenia, Azerbaijan must avoid escalating long-time feud

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Armenian soldier (file photo)

Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have issued an order for Armenia and Azerbaijan to prevent racial hatred and avoid aggravating their dispute, more than one year after they fought a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The  ICJ, which has its seat in The Hague, made the ruling on Tuesday upon a request by Armenia for emergency measures against Azerbaijan.

"Both parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve," said the ICJ's chief judge, Joan Donoghue.

The court also said that Azerbaijan must "protect from violence and bodily harm" all prisoners from last year's conflict.

The two countries fought a six-week war in November 2020, which claimed more than 6,500 lives on both sides.

The ICJ also ordered Azerbaijan to "prevent the incitement of racial hatred and discrimination including by its officials and institutions" against Armenians.

Baku was also ordered to prevent the "vandalism and desecration" of Armenian cultural heritage, including churches.

Last year's war, which ended with a Russian-brokered deal, left Azerbaijan largely in control of Nagorno-Karabakh. The ceasefire ended the war but tensions remain high between the two sides, and the accord left many questions unsettled, including the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenians who still live there.

Even before the conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh was internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but was populated by ethnic Armenians.

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