On May 24, 1915, in the capitals of the Entente powers – in Paris, London, and Petrograd (modern Saint Petersburg) – a joint statement was simultaneously published whose initiator and author was Russia. The statement was followed by a telegram from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov.
After receiving the first reports of massacres of Armenians, the minister sent a message to the ambassadors in London and Paris on April 15, 1915:
“The ministry received new information about the anarchy in Asian Turkey and the massacre of Armenians by Turks and Kurds.
Suggest the French (English) government to publish together with us and England (France) an appeal to the Sublime Porte, in which personal responsibility for the massacres of Armenians would be assigned to all members of the Turkish Council of Ministers, as well as to all civilian and military officials who have been involved in these events.”
The Allied powers as early as 1915 issued an important statement recognizing and condemning the massacre of Armenians. The text of the statement is brought in the image below.
From the point of view of international law, this statement is of exceptional importance because when the Armenian Genocide was classified as a crime “against humanity and civilization”, the criminal responsibility for it fell on the Turkish government and all members of its local governmental agencies.
It is noteworthy that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov proposed that the representatives of France and England include the words “crimes against Christianity and civilization” in the joint statement. French Foreign Minister Théophile Delcassé rejected the proposal, fearing that it would be offensive to Muslims under the colonial rule of England and France. Consequently, “crime against humanity and civilization” was proposed instead, which would be adopted and find a place in the joint statement.
Prior to the adoption of the UN Genocide Convention, the United Nations War Crimes Commission on May 28, 1948, announced that the wording “crime against humanity and civilization” assigned to the mass killings of Armenians in the joint declaration of the Entente powers of May 24, 1915, was identical to the crimes that during the Nuremberg trials were classified by international law as inhuman actions against their own subjects, that is – genocide.
This declaration has become an exceptional phenomenon in terms of international relations and international law. It was on the basis of this declaration that after the end of World War I, the arrest and prosecution of Young Turk criminals were carried out.
The text of the joint declaration of the Entente Powers of May 24, 1915.
1. Sir Edward Gray, British Foreign Secretary in 1905-1916. 2. Théophile Delcassé, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France in 1914-1915. 3. Sergey Sazonov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia in 1910-1916.
List of used literature:
- A. Marukyan, “The main tasks of eliminating the consequences of the Armenian Genocide along with historical-legal justification”, Yerevan, Institute of History, 2014, pages 81-82, 84. On the process of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, see also “History of Armenia”, Volume IV, Book Two, Yerevan, Zangak, 2016, pages 531-542.
- Narek Poghosyan, “The relationship between crimes against humanity and genocide and its manifestation on the example of the Armenian Genocide”, Genocide Journal 6, No 2 (2018), page 96.