Fifth Session of Forum on Minority Issues held in Geneva

The Fifth Session of the Forum on on Minority Issues of the Human Rights Council started at Palais des Nations in Geneva on 27 November.

The session is devoted to the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on human rights belonging to national or ethnic, religious and language minorities, adopted by UN in December 1992.

The session opened with the video message of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Mun, who noted the important role of the declaration in terms of encouragement and protection of rights of national minorities, the need to reflect their interests on the level of UN.

UN High Commissioner on Human Rights N.Pillay, President of the Human Rights Council L.Lasserre , Independent expert on issues of minorities R.Izsak spoke at the session. They stressed the need to execute the declaration, noted the role of the relevant contractual bodies of UN in application of the document points related to encouragement and protection of rights of minorities.

Speaking at the session, Mr. Ali Hasanov, Head of Department of Public and Political Issues of the Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan informed in detail about the state policy in protection of ethnic and religious minorities, implemented in Azerbaijan in line with national legislation and norms of international law, spoke about numerous measures in the country taken for preservation of cultural and ethnic diversity, resolution of international and interstate relations on the basis of civilian norms, further strengthening of tolerance and presented definite facts about the state attention and care for the preservation and development of languages and cultures of minorities.

Mr. A.Hasanov noted that for the first time in the post-Soviet  area the decree of the President on protection of rights and liberties of national minorities and ethnic groups, as well as the state support to development of their languages and cultures was signed in Azerbaijan. The head of the delegation also noted that the Constitution of Azerbaijan fixes language, cultural, educational right, right for freedom of religion and other rights of minorities residing in the country.

The official representative of the Presidential Administration said that national minorities in Azerbaijan are broadly represented in both the parliament and within the executive bodies. One of the main directions in national policy of Azerbaijan is the provision of the due support to languages and cultures of all national minorities residing in the country. Affiliates of universities and colleges are opened in a number of Azerbaijani regions where national minorities live, the radio and television channels of the country broadcast programs in the languages of national minorities. Local TV channels function in these areas. Newspapers and magazines are published in the languages of national minorities.

The head of delegation also said that the Coordination Council of National Minorities is functioning at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The National Academy of Science of Azerbaijan has a special department for studying languages, culture, history and ethnography of national minorities. Catholic churches and synagogues function with mosques in Baku. In this sense Azerbaijan is known worldwide as a space of multiculturalism.

The Fifth Session of the Forum ended on 28 November 2012.

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