No:488/23, Statement by H.E. Mr. Jeyhun Bayramov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council

Statement by H.E. Mr. Jeyhun Bayramov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the 54th session

of the UN Human Rights Council


13 September 2023

Geneva, Switzerland


Mr. President,


Ladies and gentlemen,


It is my privilege to address once again this esteemed gathering, which serves as a platform for open dialogue, cooperation, and the promotion of human rights worldwide.


Azerbaijan is fully dedicated to upholding the fundamental principles of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. We firmly believe that the full realization of human rights is essential for sustainable peace, development, and the well-being of all people.


Azerbaijan is unwavering in its commitment to human rights, and we are continuously making significant progress in this area. The country's ongoing reforms cover a wide range of activities, including improvements to the legislative framework, strengthened dialogue with political parties, support for the development of media, better conditions for people with disabilities, empowerment of women and youth, and a focus on transparent and efficient public service delivery.


Mr. President,


Azerbaijan is convinced that promoting tolerance and non-discrimination is one of the essential elements in ensuring the protection of the rights of people and building sustainable societies. We are concerned about the growing trend of intolerance and discrimination, Islamophobia, other religious misconceptions, and an alarming surge in hate speech. These attitudes pose a grave threat to our societies’ harmony, security, and stability. Burning and desecrating the Holy Quran in some parts of the world under the guise of freedom of expression is inadmissible and constitutes a hate crime. Effective prevention and countering of these phenomena require joint international efforts.


With the centuries-long tradition of diversity and multiculturalism, Azerbaijan is renowned for its efforts and contributions to promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue. We have put forward several global initiatives, like the Baku Process and Peace for Culture, to further this cause.


Azerbaijan acknowledges the crucial role of the United Nations in promoting human rights through cooperation and dialogue among its Member States. As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Azerbaijan remains actively engaged in cooperation and constructive dialogue with the U.N. human rights bodies and mechanisms.


Azerbaijan, as one of the founding members of the Human Rights Council, has been a staunch supporter of the Council as a credible and responsive global human rights body. To support the vital work of the Office and its pivotal role in providing technical assistance and capacity building to States, Azerbaijan regularly makes financial contributions to the OHCHR, which has also been the case this year.  We will continue cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights based on the expectations of mutual trust and genuine respect.


Azerbaijan has consistently advocated for cooperation between the special procedure mandate holders and the states based on constructive dialogue and mutual trust. With this understanding, Azerbaijan has extended standing invitations to all mandate holders. However, it is worrisome to observe growing instances of some mandate holders obstructing the spirit of constructive dialogue with the states by presenting unverified allegations in their communications as established facts, issuing public statements without taking into account the views of the concerned state, and deviating from their mandates by violating procedural regulations set by the Human Rights Council. These irregularities must be addressed immediately to restore confidence in this critical pillar of U.N. human rights machinery.


As the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan has initiated a platform for dialogue between the NAM Member States and the special procedures mandate holders. This initiative aims to facilitate constructive interaction and contribute to the common efforts dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights. 


In the same vein, Azerbaijan, as the NAM Chair, promotes within the HRC such topics as the right to development, international cooperation in human rights, and the impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, including by tabling the thematic HRC Resolutions.


Furthermore, in its national capacity, Azerbaijan actively promotes within the Council issues like the synergy between implementing Sustainable Development Goals, promoting and protecting human rights, and ensuring efficient, transparent, and accountable public service delivery systems.


Azerbaijan's ASAN Service - a one-stop shop public service delivery brand of Azerbaijan providing more than 300 different kinds of public services in one facility with the least possible human-to-human contact - revolutionized the field, helped to uphold socio-economic rights and fight corruption. ASAN Service won the UN Public Service Award in 2015 and the Global Government Excellence Award in 2023. It is worth noting that several other countries are replicating and learning from the ASAN service model, promoting human rights and furthering sustainable development globally.


Mr. President,


Over three decades, Azerbaijan has borne the brunt of Armenia’s aggressive actions, enduring grave injustice and state-sponsored animosity directed at its people. Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territories for nearly 30 years witnessed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing without sparing even children, the elderly, and women. Armenia’s aggression resulted in the tragic denial of fundamental rights for tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis, including the right to life, education, safety, protection, and health.


From 1987 to 1991, Armenia forcefully expelled more than 300,000 Azerbaijanis from their ancestral homeland in blatant violation of international law. All Azerbaijani settlements and toponyms in Armenia were renamed, and our historical and cultural heritage were deliberately targeted, vandalized, and destroyed. Despite repeated calls by the expelled Azerbaijanis to launch a genuine dialogue and ensure a safe and dignified return to the homeland, the Government of Armenia persistently denies them exercising the fundamental right of return enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and other important international acts.


We expect the High Commissioner and other UN specialized instruments, including the relevant Special Procedure Mandate Holders to address the rights of Azerbaijanis once expelled from their homes in Armenia.


It is of utmost importance to hold Armenia accountable on the international stage for its grave breaches of international human rights law against Azerbaijanis. This will represent a significant stride towards achieving justice for the victims of such offenses and will be crucial for genuine reconciliation.


Although the conflict has ended and the prospect of peace is emerging, severe challenges related to human rights issues persist in the post-conflict period. The hundreds of thousands of landmines planted by Armenia in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan continue to claim innocent lives, obstruct ongoing recovery and reconstruction efforts in the liberated territories, and impede the right of Azerbaijani IDPs to return to their homeland. Due to Armenia’s decades-long occupation, Azerbaijan is one of the most mine-infested countries in the world. Since the signing of the trilateral statement in 2020, 306 individuals have fallen victim to landmines. Overall, more than 3300 Azerbaijanis became mine victims during the last 30 years. 


Another pressing issue concerns the fates of approximately 4,000 Azerbaijani citizens, including 71 children, 267 women and 326 older persons went missing during the early 1990s war. Regretfully, Armenia has consistently ignored our calls to honor its obligations under humanitarian and human rights law to disclose information about the whereabouts of these missing persons.


The rule of law and equal protection under the law for all is at the core of international human rights law. Human rights must be treated fairly and equally, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis. Measures concerning the protection of persons belonging to national minorities should conform with the principles of equality and non-discrimination with respect to the other citizens of the State concerned.


With this understanding, the Government of Azerbaijan is committed to reintegrating the ethnic Armenian residents of the Garabagh region as equal citizens within its political, legal, and socio-economic framework. Azerbaijan guarantees to uphold all relevant rights and freedoms enshrined in its Constitution and the international mechanisms to which it is a party.


Armenia, driven by a revanchist mindset and attempting to evade its commitments under the normalization process, actively promotes ethnic hatred, distorts facts, manipulates ethnic Armenians, and mislead the international community with fabricated narratives. Armenia’s persistent policy is designed to disrupt the smooth realization of the reintegration process.


The interference with the internal affairs of states, undermining their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity under the guise of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities is strictly prohibited under applicable international law, including under the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities of 1992. Any such attempt must be condemned and resolutely rejected by the international community. 


At this critical juncture, Azerbaijan expects the international community to shoulder greater responsibility in urging Armenia to reverse its irresponsible behavior, abandon aggressive policies, and fulfill its obligations concerning the challenges arising from the aftermath of the conflict.


Thank you.


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