Geneva, 26 February 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to congratulate Ambassador Coly Seck on assuming responsibilities of the President of the UN Human Rights. Let me also use this occasion to congratulate UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Madame Michelle Bachelet on her recent appointment and wish her every success in discharging her important mandate.
At a time when human rights challenges, in particular forceful displacement of millions of people and racial and other forms of discrimination are on the rise globally, the role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with principal responsibility for promotion and protection of all human rights has become even more crucial. We value the Office’s pivotal role in extending technical assistance and capacity building to the Member States upon their request. With this in mind, Azerbaijan will continue to make voluntary contributions to support Office’s advisory services.
Azerbaijan believes in importance of multilateral institutions for promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Therefore, Azerbaijan attaches importance to the UN Human Rights Council mandated to promote and protect all human rights through cooperation and genuine dialogue.
While being an observer to the Council, Azerbaijan actively contributes to its work. At the 37th session of the Council Azerbaijan together with Georgia, Kenya, Thailand and Turkey submitted a draft resolution co-sponsored by 92 States on promoting human rights and SDGs through transparent, accountable and efficient public services delivery, which was unanimously adopted by the Council. This year Azerbaijan in cooperation with the OHCHR will host a follow-up international conference where countries with effective models of public services can share their best practices with other Member States as encouraged by the abovementioned Resolution. Azerbaijan was among the core group of the HRC Resolution 37/24 on promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in March 2018. The joint statement initiated by my country on an increased role of High Commissioner for Human Rights during the 38th session of the Council enjoyed support of 125 Member States.
My Government continues to carry out large-scale programs to ensure that our citizens fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this regard, I would like to highlight the recently adopted State Program on the Development of Justice in 2019-2023, which aims at further legislative and structural measures to improve performance of judiciary.
Let me underline that Azerbaijan is strongly committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which embodies all human rights, including economic, civil, cultural, political, social rights, and the right to development. Azerbaijan will submit its 2nd Voluntary National Report on the implementation of SDGs later this year. As my country is further developing its social security system, this Report will reflect special importance attached to the rights of all vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities. In that context, we welcome the decision of the UN Secretary General to promote the System Wide Action Plan on Disability Inclusion across all pillars of the UN work.
I am also pleased from this high podium to announce that this October Azerbaijan will host the 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement where my country will take over the presidency of the Movement. We are convinced that the presidency of Azerbaijan will provide another impetus for advancing the founding principles of the Movement the 65th anniversary of which will be celebrated in 2020, across many UN platforms, including in the Human Rights Council.
I take this opportunity to reaffirm my county’s commitment to the Non-Aligned Movement endeavors.
I am compelled to stress that unfortunately the on-going armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan still represents a major threat to international and regional peace and security, human rights and development.
Today, Azerbaijan marks the 27th anniversary of one the brutal pages of this conflict – the Khojaly Genocide committed by Armenia, as a result of which 613 residents of this small town in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan were murdered by Armenian military in 1992, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elders.
As a result of the armed aggression by neighboring Armenia 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan has been under occupation since 1992. Over 1 million Azerbaijanis subjected to ethnic cleansing remain to be forcefully displaced from their native lands, which in per capita terms makes it one of the highest numbers of IDPs and refugees in the world with a country of 10 million. Armenia continues the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by disregarding the UN Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 and related documents of many other international organizations, which firmly reaffirm the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and demand immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
In this context that I urge the UN Human Rights Council, its mandate holders and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take a principled standing and efficient actions for administration of justice and restoration of human rights of Azerbaijani IDPs and refugees violated more than two decades.