As reported by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, Armenian military forces used cluster munitions against Azerbaijani towns and villages. Used against troops in the field, they are prohibited by most countries of the world as they pose risks to civilians in residential areas.
The Armenian side never made a secret that they were in gross violation of all international laws of war. Both Armenian military officials and Karabakh's puppet authorities openly stated they targeted civilians in Azerbaijan.
In his October 2020 interview with Vesti TV channel (Russia), Vagarshak Harutunyan, Chief Military Advisor to the Prime Minister of Armenia, openly said
: "The tactic we have developed was to strike artillery divisions, take out AA systems and then proceed with shelling of residential areas to cause panic."
A similar statement came around the same time from the "leader" of Karabakh's separatist regime Arayik Harutyunyan, who said
the Armenian side "will be forced to operate deep inland [of Azerbaijan]."
Rules of war and consequences thereof are governed by the International Humanitarian Law, notably the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols thereto. Pursuant to these documents, firing at populated localities represents a violation of rules of war.
These documents protect people that do not (civilians, doctors, nurses and aid workers) or have ceased to take part in operations of war, for instance wounded, sick or shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war.
Having signed the Geneva Conventions, Armenia has assumed the legal obligation to abide, in all circumstances, by the rules set out therein. But in reality, the second Karabakh war saw Armenia totally violate the entire body of regulations set out under International Humanitarian Law; notably the prohibitions to populate occupied territories, attack civilians and civil infrastructure, including rocket and artillery strikes on towns and villages outside the combat zone, as well use widely banned cluster munitions, etc.
What Armenian military forces did was a stark disregard for each and every point of humanitarian law. The use of children as soldiers in the standoff was another flagrant violation of fundamental principles of "Geneva laws".
It stands to mention that International Humanitarian Law sets a lot of store by the protection of children in armed conflict situations, prescribing both general and special protection to that end.
The latter is guaranteed by Article 77 of Additional Protocol I, which prescribes: "Children shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected against any form of indecent assault. The Parties to the conflict shall provide them with the care and aid they require, whether because of their age or for any other reason."
Prof. Ayten Mustafazade, Director of the Institute of Law and Human Rights of ANAS, says that over 30 years of Karabakh's occupation, Azerbaijan has watched as Armenia shows to the entire world how little it cares about international law and resolutions of international organizations that recognize Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories and call upon Armenia to immediately withdraw occupation forces.
"These include the resolutions of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights, and, most importantly, the four essential resolutions issued by United Nations Security Council in 1993. But no matter how many documents and resolutions have been passed, they remained but on paper as Armenia shows a flagrant disrespect for the entire international community by ignoring them altogether", Prof. Mustafazade said in her 5 October 2020 interview
Contrary to the 1990s, when Azerbaijan did not see the war coming and could collect only a few evidences of Armenian military crimes, such data were proactively collected this time, during the 44-day war in 2020. According to Prof. Mustafazade, they all will be used to file a claim to the International Military Tribunal.
"Armenian war criminals shall be brought to accountability", she said.