During the 39th International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Congress in Johannesburg, Human rights defender from Armenia, Chairperson of Civil Society Institute NGO Artak Kirakosyan, was elected as a Vice President of the FIDH. The resolution adopted during the Congress also refers to the situation in Artsakh. "Armedia" IAA has talked with Human rights defender Artak Kirakosyan on the importance of the resolution, as well as about his plans as the Vice President of the FIDH.
- Mr Kirakosyan, what importance does the resolution adopted by FIDH have or what influence it can have?
- This resolution is also a working guidance for the Federation on human rights issues in controversial entities. During the Congress work in unrecognized conflict zones was emphasized as the main direction for FIDH, as today, in fact, about 4.5 million people live in a situation, when in the sphere of human rights international law does not work to the full.
- What mechanisms can there be for ensuring human rights protection in NKR?
- First of all, local mechanisms should work. We already have a new ombudsman, and I think he, as a professional, will work more effectively.
Second, NKR, as a state, has unilaterally joined several important conventions of the UN and the Council of Europe, and it is important that they are carried out, that mechanisms are developed by the state for their implementation. For example, one of those mechanisms can be public reports by NKR like Armenia does. There are also several opportunities to work with the European Court.
We think that two-sided work can be done - first, by the NKR authorities. Undertaking these obligations, unrecognized states even in the international arena are considered to be subjects, which are capable of and may maintain various international norms.
On the other hand, it is the international community that should work. It should not close its eyes on the problems of human rights issues in conflict zones and should work with the authorities there.
- Do you consider the establishment of the Office of the Council of Europe in NKR among the possible mechanisms?
- I have personally talked with the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe. This should also be a two-way process. Discussions have also been held with NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Defender clarifying that as the first step an information center of the Council of Europe in Stepanakert should be established, which will allow to get acquainted with the activities of the Council of Europe, with their documents, judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, etc. In the Council of Europe this was perceived as more a technical problem.
I think this is a solvable problem. The NKR authorities and people first of all should show an interest in the opening of the information center. Let's not forget also that the Office of the Council of Europe in Armenia was established on the basis of the information center. The same can be tried in NKR. Dissemination of information about the EU, the creation of a similar information center will also be effective. We should prepare ground for the construction of future relations.
- How much are the NKR civil society institutions involved in international organizations? What steps can be taken to increase their involvement?
- One of the calls of FIDH which was also reflected in the Resolution, is that the international community work with local NGOs, human rights defenders. This participation is very low. The Civil Society Institute also makes efforts to involve Karabakh partners in various programs.
But there is also another problem. We cannot rely only on the international community. There should be funds in Armenia to support civil society in Karabakh. In the scheme of "one nation, two states" should not be "one nation, two public" phenomenon: everything should be done to harmonize the societies of Armenia and NKR.
- What will your activities be as the Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights?
- My responsibility has increased for the entire region, mainly with regard to the post-Soviet countries. I will try to support our colleagues in Turkey, human rights defenders, given the difficult situation there.
Our primary targets are conflict zones and mechanisms for protecting human rights.
Steps should be taken for the protection of civilians in times of war, because the response that we had in respect of war crimes by the international community in connection with the April events, was very weak.