Since the Republic of Azerbaijan has acquired independence there have been taken measures on protection of cultural values and development of cultural life in our country, also our country began cooperation with international organizations in this area. The Milli Meglis (the Legislative power of Azerbaijan Republic) has adopted series of legislative acts in cultural sphere till now:
- The Law on "Resumption of Latin alphabet" dated from December 25, 1991;
- The Law on Mass Media dated from July 21, 1992;
- The Law on Author's rights Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from September 10, 1993;
- The Law on AZERKINOVIDEO" Production Unity dated from December 13, 1993;
- The Law on Author's rights and mixed rights dated from June 5, 1996;
- The Law on Advertisement dated from October 3, 1997;
- The Law on Culture dated from February 6, 1998;
- The Law on Protection of historical and cultural monuments dated from April 10, 1998;
- The Law on Grants dated from April 17, 1998;
- The Law on Freedom of information dated from June 19, 1998;
- The Law on Cinematography dated from June 3, 1998;
- The Law on Sculptural activity dated from July 3, 1998;
- The Law on Library dated from December 29, 1998;
- The Law on Tourism dated from July 4, 1999;
- The Law on Basis of City Foundation dated from June 11, 1999;
- The Law on National Archive Fund dated from June 22, 1999;
- The Law on Mass Media dated from February 8, 2000;
- The Law on Museums dated from March 24, 2000;
- The Law on Publishing, and etc.
It is necessary to note that the national legislative acts as well as international instruments are the legislative basis of cultural issues particularly issues pertinent to protection of historical and cultural monuments in Azerbaijan. The international instruments that Azerbaijan joined are following: Hague Convention on "Protection of Cultural Monuments during the armed conflicts" dated from 1954, Paris Convention on "The protection of the Word Cultural Heritage" dated from 1970, Paris Convention on "The prohibition of illegal bringing and carrying off the cultural values, also prohibition and prevention of law property" dated from 1970, Convention on "Steal and Illegally carrying off cultural values" dated from 1995.
In cultural sphere Azerbaijan cooperates with UNESCO (UN's specialized organization on Education, Science and Culture), ISESCO (Organization on Education, Science and Culture of the Islamic Conference) and the Council of Europe.
Azerbaijan participates at different projects in cultural sphere. One of them is the Joint initiative of the Council of Europe and European Union named European Heritage Days Company.
Azerbaijan has joined to this project in 2000.
Azerbaijan participates in series of international cultural projects. Thus, Cultural Heritage Days-2003 Company of the Council of Europe was held in Azerbaijan on September 26-28, 2003. During the Cultural Heritage Days-2003 Company of the Council of Europe it was organized the unveiling of monuments, the reconstruction of which had been finished in the framework of international projects, also review of the monuments, the reconstruction of which hadn't been finished yet, the presentation of exhibition and catalogue on "Photoexpertise -2003" International Photo Initiative. In the framework of this project there had been given facultative lessons on "European Common Heritage" Program, Cultural Heritage Days-2003 Company, on the theme "The protection of the cultural heritage is my civic duty" in schools and universities.
The topic of “European Heritage Days” held in 2005 was “Cultures and peaceful process”. Campaign consisted of 2 events:
1. Baku International “East-West” Festival
2. Photo exhibition of children and youth within the frame of “Photo-experience-2005” was held and in the end the works was introduced at the Republic Youth Forum.
On December 9-10, 2005 event dedicated to 50 years anniversary of European Cultural Convention was held in Vrotslav (Poland). The event where Azerbaijan delegation took part announced beginning of 50 years anniversary of European Cultural Convention. With conference held in Faro (Portugal) on October 27-28, 2005 celebrating of 50 years anniversary was closed.
Azerbaijan took part in other project on cultural issues of the Council of Europe known as "STAGE" ("Support for Transition in the Arts in Greater Europe"). This project included Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. The main principals of this project are following: supporting the cultural identity, cultural diversity, creativity and the participation of all groups of society in cultural life of the country. The Expert Group of the CE visited Baku in the framework of "STAGE" project in May 2001. During this visit experts noted the areas where the CE assistance was available and considered inputs of the representatives of civil society. In the framework of this project the seminar on "Financing the Culture in the period of transition" was held in Tbilisi on June 13-17, 2001. The delegation consisting of 6 people represent Azerbaijan in this seminar.
The Kyiv Initiative (KI) for democratic development through culture in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia was initiated in September 2005 during the 5th enlarged ministerial Colloquy of the countries participating in the STAGE. On December 15, at ministerial meeting in Bucharest opening conference of the KI was held and Kyiv Initiative Declaration was adopted. KI is an operative frame for monitoring of the development process of culture and protection of cultural heritage, as well as regional co-operation.
On September 19, 2007 concert of the musicians from Azerbaijan was held at Palais des Nations (Geneva) by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva.
On April 17, 2008 the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva organized at Palais des Nations (Geneva) exhibition of photographs from Azerbaijan named “A land where cultures meet: strength with diversity” which was dedicated to the topic of tolerance.
In May 2008 several child concerts and exhibitions dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan were held in Paris, Strasbourg and Brussels.
• The Republic of Azerbaijan is a multinational and multi-religious country. The national policy of the country is defined on the principles of tolerance and coexistence of various nationalities, ethnic groups and religious minorities.
• At the same time, regardless, the fact that 96% of Azerbaijani population are Muslims, there is no discrimination as to religion or belief. Nowadays more than one thousand mosques, eleven churches, six synagogues and other religious temples are functioning in Azerbaijan without any obstacles.
• According to the article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the state ensures equality of rights and freedom of everybody irrespective of his race, nationality, religion, language, sex, background, state of property, faith, work position, membership to political parties, trade unions and other public institutions.
• Despite the difficulties being experienced by Azerbaijan, due to the unresolved armed conflict that continues more than a decade with neighboring Armenia, which occupies 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory and the presence of about one million refugees and forcibly displaced persons, the Government of Azerbaijan continues to pursue a consistent policy towards protection of the rights of all minorities living in the country.
• Azerbaijan has joined to 8 of 9 core international treaties, including International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. And in 2009 Azerbaijan joined the UNESCO Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
• Besides, the international instruments special measures are stipulated against racial or other types of discrimination within the national law system. Articles 103, 104, 111, 283 of Criminal Code and the Law on Freedom of Religious Faith, the Law on Right of the Child, the Law on Political Parties, the Law on Education and etc. include provisions against discrimination. The National Security Conception of the Republic of Azerbaijan provides for a number of important provisions in the field of safeguarding national and religious tolerance, i.e. in accordance with the sub-paragraph 4.3.2 of the mentioned Conception, protection and development of national and religious tolerance established in the country is determined as one of the major duties of the state.
• At the same time, in accordance with the National Action Plan of the Republic of Azerbaijan special measures are taken for the strengthening of intercultural dialogue and interfaith cooperation, protection and further development of cultural heritage of ethnic minorities in cities and regions of Azerbaijan.
• Azerbaijan attaches great attention to awareness raising activities among population. Since 2007 the State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations held 474 seminar-trainings on cultural and religious diversity, including inter-religious dialogue in various regions, schools and prisons of the country. In this respect, Azerbaijan attaches particular importance to human rights education, the Ministry of Education regularly organizes events oriented to strengthening respect to people representing different cultures, ethnicities and religions. In 2008-2010 trainings have been conducted for teaching staff on “National minorities”, “Respect to people representing different cultures, races, nationalities, languages and religions” and others.
• Besides, Azerbaijan pays great attention to promotion of best examples of religious tolerance and inter-religious dialogue. Accordingly, on 6-7 November 2009, an international conference on “İnter-religious dialogue: from mutual understanding towards cooperation” was held in Baku. Guests from more than 31 states and 8 international organizations attended the conference. On 26-27 April 2010, Baku hosted World Religious Leaders Summit. Leaders of different confessions and related delegates of different international organizations participated at the Summit.
• At the same time, Azerbaijan initiated “Baku Process” for the promotion of intercultural dialogue, launched in 2008. The special feature of this process is that it brings together people of different origins and with different educational backgrounds from different cultures through programs and projects in the field of culture and dialogue. Another important feature is, this process is realized by the Government of Azerbaijan in cooperation with Council of Europe, UNESCO, ISESCO, Alliance of Civilizations and Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which creates constructive network of international organizations. Various important events took place within the framework of this process. As a continuation of this project Azerbaijan invited more than ten states from Europe to participate at the Sixth Conference of Ministers of Culture of Islamic countries held in Baku on 13-15 October, 2009. Another important event - new project “Dialogue of Culure Capitals” was launched by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2010 within this process. At the same time, on 7-9 April 2011 under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijani Government together with the UN, UNESCO, ISESCO, Council of Europeç North-South Centre and other international organisations hosted in Baku the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue. The Forum was attended by representatives of governments, international organisations, academicians, experts and NGOs. It is envisaged to organize this event on a regular basis, every two years. The next Forum will be held in Baku in May-June 2013 .