Arms control

One of the main arms control institutions based in Geneva is the Conference on Disarmament (CD), which is a single international disarmament negotiating forum, focused on multilateral disarmament efforts. Although it reports to the UN General Assembly and has a relationship with the United Nations, it adopts its own rules of procedure and agenda, giving it some degree of independence. The CD has a permanent agenda devoted to the negotiation of disarmament issues. The Conference and its predecessors have negotiated major nonproliferation and disarmament agreements such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Environmental Modification and Seabed treaties, the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The Conference currently has 65 members. The last enlargement took place in 1995, when CD unanimously decided to admit 23 new members. CD has also invited other UN Member States that have expressed a desire to participate in the CD's substantive discussions, to take part in its work as non-member States. There are almost 40 non-member states participating in the work of the Conference.

Azerbaijan is also currently participating in the work of the Conference as a non-member state. In the scope of the UN arms control issues, as a country suffering from the occupation of its territories as a result of the aggression of Armenia and situating in proximity to other conflicts affecting the region, Azerbaijan is fully committed to and is making sustained efforts for maintaining international peace, security and stability, including through contributing to peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts. In this regard, Azerbaijan, by participating in the work of the CD, benefits of the opportunity to use the platform of the Conference in order to deliver its position and engage in the work of international initiatives on disarmament issues.

The risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons had increased significantly over the past decades precisely because dealing with that issue selectively had led to the stockpiling of large amounts of nuclear weapons and the development of new deadly weapons in many countries, without any regard to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Azerbaijan is also actively engaged in addressing the small arms and light weapons proliferation problem at the international level, including by undertaking efforts aimed at strengthening regional cooperation for combating their illicit trafficking. However, Azerbaijan continues to stress the fact that the success in counteracting the illegal proliferation and storage of those weapons in the South Caucasus is only possible through the creation of a stable and secure region, respect for international law, abandonment of territorial claims towards neighboring nations and discontinuation of support to armed separatists and terrorists

It is important to keep in mind the fact that Azerbaijan is restricted by the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. As a result, over 20% of Azerbaijan territories occupied by neighboring Armenia had become a “black hole” in the zone of the application of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).  Moreover, the international community had lived with and tolerated the situation in which hundreds of pieces of treaty-limited equipment belonging to one State party had been illegally deployed in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, in gross violation of the CFE Treaty provisions. The occupied territories of Azerbaijan provided the occupying country with the opportunity to use those areas as repair facilities and, moreover, to transfer and hide treaty-limited equipment from the international verification regimes.

Azerbaijan supports the concepts and objectives of the comprehensive ban of use, storage and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. Azerbaijan considers a full ban and destruction of anti-personnel landmines to be an important humanitarian objective of the world community in the twenty-first century. However, Azerbaijan is not a party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine Ban Convention), a situation that is influenced by the continuing occupation of its territories and the unfortunate need to use landmines as a measure of containment from possible resumption of hostilities.

At the same time, Azerbaijan follows most of the Convention’s provisions by not producing or transferring anti-personnel mines. In addition, Azerbaijan had voted in favor of the annual General Assembly resolution on the subject, which, among other things, called for universalization of the Mine Ban Convention. 

Azerbaijan continues its cooperation in the above-mentioned area with Geneva-based institutions. It is worth mentioning that the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) provides support to the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) and other mine action actors in Azerbaijan in the field of Programme management, operations and standards. Among other activities, GICHD-Azerbaijan cooperation covers information management, such as the assessment of the Quality Management System. Azerbaijan plays a key part in “European Commission funded Mine Actions in the Caucasus and Central Asia” and completed the installation of and training on Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). In the sphere of risk management, mechanical demining field trials were successfully conducted with ANAMA. In addition to the Land Release Workshop conducted for the national authority and operators, trials were conducted for mine detection equipment with ANAMA. Azerbaijan continues to receive assistance in reviewing National Mine Action Standards and thus constantly demonstrates its willingness to support the global endeavor of ridding the world of those menacing weapons. 

Azerbaijan constantly votes in favor of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). In 2016 Azerbaijan has rendered its positive vote in the UNGA First Committee on the resolution A/C.1/71/L.22 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”. Moreover, as a sign of its support for the “Ottawa process”, since 2008, Azerbaijan voluntarily submits its report, pursuant to the Article 7 of the Convention.

Concerning another important element of the arms control issues which is the Biological Weapons Convention, Azerbaijan acceded to the BWC in February 2004. As its party, Azerbaijan participates in the yearly States Parties Meeting. Eighth Review Conference of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention offered the opportunity for the States Parties to carry out a full review of the purposes and the provisions of the Convention, taking into account relevant scientific and technological developments. The three-week Review Conference was held in Geneva. The Review Conference was preceded by a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) that met in two sessions during April and August. In an unprecedented move, the PrepCom considered a number of substantive issues, although it had no mandate to reach conclusions. It demonstrated an important sign of a good will and a good start to the Review Conference.

Azerbaijan is also a founding member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Azerbaijan proudly stands among the states with no record to suggesting that it has ever pursued a chemical weapons capability. Moreover, Azerbaijan is an active promoter of the global implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, including progress in destroying chemical weapons stockpiles, and underlines the importance of achieving universality of the Convention. Azerbaijan cooperates with CWC in the scope of the global security developments. In 2013 Azerbaijan hosted OPCW Regional Training Course for Customs Authorities in Eastern Europe. Azerbaijan has been commended by the Director-General for its firm commitment to the goal of the CWC and support to the work of the OPCW.