APPEAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY TO THE ARMENIAN AUTHORITIES ON THE PRIORITY CHALLENGES FACED BY ARMENIA

The results of the snap parliamentary election that took place on 20 June 2021 show that the Civil Contract party led by Nikol Pashinyan received a significant majority of the citizens’ votes. This political force will undertake the mission of forming a new government, and the other two forces that enter the parliament will act as radical opposition.

The reelected government bears the historic mission of undertaking all measures necessary for bringing the country out of the current crisis, overcoming societal polarization, and embarking upon a period of recovery. In this extremely difficult situation, one ought to be prudent and wise in pressing ahead with critical reforms based on principles such as the rule of law, a systemic approach, accountability, transparent governance, and consistency.

The restoration of state institutions and the effective safeguarding of checks and balances between the branches of power must be fully based upon the constitutional aims of having a sovereign, democratic, social, and legal state. Any decision or reform must conform to these fundamental values; any concession or retreat from them will inflict irreversible losses upon us.

Among a number of urgent challenges faced by the newly-elected parliament and new government, we consider the following ones to be of utmost priority. Steps must be implemented in these areas in order to overcome the existing crisis, to have strong, independent, and capable state institutions, and to create a social-political environment anchored in respect for the democratic principles and fundamental human freedoms.

The below-signed civil society representatives recommend that the authorities implement these steps in order to overcome the challenges faced by the country.

Security and the Border Situation

Taking into account the absence of security for the population living near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, create an international monitoring mission under the auspices of OSCE and the UN in order to monitor the human rights situation in towns and villages near the border and to relieve the tension. Clarify the legal status of security for borders and communications and ensure the protection of the rights and interests of the Republic of Armenia and of citizens of the Republic of Armenia in the demarcation process and address them in the context of the status of Artsakh in accordance with the principles of international law.

Return of the War Prisoners

In cooperation with international organizations and partner states, make urgent and comprehensive efforts for the release and return of war prisoners and other persons unlawfully detained in Azerbaijan.

The Nagorno Karabakh Issue

Make efforts to resume the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group without any delay. Otherwise, it will be impossible to obtain any guarantees for either the security of Artsakh and her citizens or the exercise of their right to self-determination and the achievement of durable and stable peace.

Constitutional Amendments

Initiate discussions with the public at large in order to draft a new Constitution that will revise the super-prime-ministerial model of government, strengthen the checks and balances between the branches of power, ensure the accountability of state bodies before the legislature and the public, safeguard the independence of the judiciary, and so on.

Transitional Justice and the Political Assessment of the State Capture

Immediately carry out transitional justice by means of creating and ensuring the work of a Truth Commission, which will cover also the period from 2018 to 2020. As a necessary step, start discussions in the newly-elected National Assembly with a view to giving a political assessment of the state capture and adopting the final text of such assessment by the newly-elected National Assembly.

Recovery of Illegal Assets

Ensure an effective legislative framework and create accountable mechanisms and institutions for the recovery of property and other assets stolen from the state and society and for their effective management, ensuring its conformity to the principles of the rule of law. Rigorously examine and ensure the integrity of authorities responsible for asset recovery and a high level of public and expert trust in such authorities.

Judicial Reforms

In accordance with the principle of the rule of law, develop legislative and other necessary mechanisms to ensure the swift vetting of judges and other officials that acted against justice and caused the judicial, investigative, and prosecution authorities to fail, and engage only impartial, independent, and competent professionals in these systems. As part of the reforms, the independence and effectiveness of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be safeguarded with a view to protecting the activities of judges from any unlawful interference.

Inquiry into the Causes, Consequences, and Problems of the War

Create by law an inquiry commission comprising non-partisan and independent experts, which will comprehensively review the circumstances of the recent war and the 9 November 2020 trilateral statement, as well as the mass violations of human rights in that context. The commission will need to reveal the truth for the public and present recommendations on preventing such violations and failures.

Overcoming the Crisis in Education

Carry out a professional and political assessment of all levels of education (from preschool to university education) and develop a clear and realistic agenda of reforms and a roadmap of urgent actions. Strengthen integrity in education, restore the institutional autonomy of universities and the quality of education, and carry out reforms in public general education in order to reinstate equity and equitable access to and affordability of quality education for all citizens.

Improvement of Local Self-Government

Restructure the local self-government system to secure proportionate regional development and decentralization and to preclude regional discrimination. With the exception of powers that must be inevitably exercised by the central government, transfer state powers to the local self-government bodies, together with appropriate funding, and review the fiscal policy. Strengthen local self-government bodies and institutions.

Among many other problems faced by Armenia, the ones presented above are the most urgent and critical ones, and neglecting or underestimating them will further complicate the situation in the country and lead to further domestic confrontations, as well as new external threats. Moreover, the below-signed organizations hereby express our readiness to provide expert support to the government, without any remuneration and solely in pursuit of public interests, in solving the aforementioned problems and implementing institutional reforms, should the government wish to engage in such reforms. We expect a response from the Armenian government to this appeal. However, irrespective of such response, we hereby declare that we will make all legitimate efforts to follow up on solving the aforementioned and related problems.

The statement is open for others to join.

If you wish to join this statement, please contact Narine Yeganyan at nyeganyan@hcav.am.

Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation NGO
Armenian-British Human Rights Association
Armenian Progressive Youth NGO
Aram Hovakimyan
Asparez club of journalists NGO
Centre for Community Mobilization and Support
Children’s Support Centre Foundation
Civic Development NGO
Civil Youth Center
Coalition to Stop Violence against Women
Direct Democracy NGO
“EcoLur” Informational NGO
Family and Community NGO
For Equal Rights NGO
“Free Citizen” Civic Initiatives Support Center
Fund for Development and Protection of Law
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor NGO
Human Rights Power
Martuni Women’s Community Council
Non-Discrimination and Equality Coalition
Open Society Foundations – Armenia
Peace Dialogue NGO
Progress of Gyumri NGO – Civil Society Development Center
Protection of Rights without Borders NGO
Public Journalism Club NGO
Restart Foundation
Tumanyan Law Firm
Sosi Tatikyan, consultant on public administration, foreign and security policy
Shogher Union NGO
Union of Informed Citizens NGO
Women’s Resource Center
Women’s Support Center
Youth Avangard NGO