No:377/22, Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the combined tenth to twelfth reports of Azerbaijan
The Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan was pleased to participate in the recent session of the CERD Committee, and to present its tenth to twelfth periodic reports under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to the Committee. Azerbaijan is deeply committed to upholding its obligations under CERD, which promotes the same multicultural values that Azerbaijan has long espoused as a country made up of many different ethnic, cultural, and religious groups.
As the Committee noted in its recent concluding observations on Azerbaijan’s reports, Azerbaijan has taken positive steps towards meeting CERD’s goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination. Since 2017, for example, Azerbaijan has implemented a number of legislative and policy measures to ensure the equal enjoyment of rights by refugees and stateless persons as well as children of every race, ethnicity, and origin in Azerbaijan. In 2018, Azerbaijan adopted the State Programme for the Development of the Azerbaijani Justice System, which aims to enhance the efficiency and quality of the judicial system, including through trainings and exchanges with partner countries. Azerbaijan also seeks to strengthen its domestic anti-discrimination framework even further with the adoption of the draft Law “On Prevention and Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”, which already addresses some of the Committee’s recommendations.
The CERD Committee also noted the steps Azerbaijan has taken to strengthen its existing laws against incitement of racial hatred, most notably through amendments to Article 283 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code and to the Law “On Information, Informatization and Protection of Information”. The CERD Committee specifically acknowledged that these amendments impose stricter penalties on the incitement of ethnic, racial, social or religious hatred or enmity, and prohibit the distribution of such incitement and information promoting violence and religious extremism on the Internet and social media.
Azerbaijan has also made a concerted effort to ensure accountability for violations of the CERD, including by initiating criminal investigations into possible violations and prosecuting the alleged perpetrators where there was sufficient basis to do so. Further, Azerbaijan is dedicated to upholding the core values protected by CERD and does not condone statements or actions that promote hatred or incite violence targeting any national or ethnic group.
Azerbaijan is committed to the protection of cultural heritage, on a non-discriminatory basis as set out in Azerbaijan’s laws and constitution, as well as following international standards in preserving cultural, religious and historical heritage in the liberated territories, regardless of ethnic, religious or cultural origin. As Azerbaijan advised the Committee, Azerbaijan has implemented new security measures on access to heritage sites, regularly monitors the status and condition of the sites, and has issued instructions for construction crews on procedures to minimize the risk of damage to the sites during reconstruction activities. Azerbaijan was also pleased to see the Committee agree that a UNESCO technical mission was essential to provide independent oversight of its efforts to protect these sites. Azerbaijan has been publicly calling for such a mission earlier than 2005, and remains committed to facilitating the mission as soon as possible. It has welcomed similar missions from ICESCO, which praised its efforts to protect religious sites of multiple denominations in May 2022.
In facilitating the return of the hundreds of thousands of IDPs to the liberated territories, Azerbaijan is also committed to rebuilding the multi-ethnic and diverse communities which populated the region prior to the occupation. This commitment comes from its highest levels, with H.E. President Aliyev’s most recent statement reiterating Azerbaijan’s continued openness to all citizens regardless of their ethnic, religious or linguistic background of all heritages and religions in April this year when he reaffirmed that Azerbaijan “is a multiethnic country and all ethnic groups who live here live in peace and dignity, including Armenians.” H.E President Aliyev’s statement also confirmed that “the rights and security of the Armenians living in Karabakh… will be ensured by the State of Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijan appreciates the constructive dialogue with the CERD Committee and duly notes the Committee’s views and recommendations. Azerbaijan remains committed to supporting the rights and dignity of everyone in its territory on an equal basis, regardless of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin, and will continue working towards realizing its ultimate goal of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations globally.