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Human Rights Day in the Republic of Azerbaijan

June 18 is celebrated in the Republic of Azerbaijan as Human Rights Day, according to a decree on the annual celebration of the date signed on June 18, 2007 by President Ilham Aliyev. The measure was preceded by the approval of the “State Program on the Protection of Human Rights” on June 18, 1998 by Azerbaijani National Leader, Heydar Aliyev. Since then the support of human rights became one of the main priorities of state policy and June 18 has been marked as Human Rights Day in the country.

Having regained its independence, Azerbaijan has laid the foundations for the creation of a democratic, legal and secular state based on universal human values as its path of development.

All the fundamental positive changes in the direction of human rights and freedoms in independent Azerbaijan have been possible as a result of wide-ranging reforms implemented under the leadership of National Leader Heydar Aliyev.

The first achievement in the protection of human rights was the development and approval of the first Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan on November 12, 1995, which enshrines human and civil rights and freedoms and defines as the highest objective of the State a decent standard of living for Azerbaijani citizens. The second chapter of the first Azerbaijan’s Constitution, drafted under the leadership of national leader Heydar Aliyev, is entirely devoted to the fundamental human and civil rights and freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan. This strategic goal, reflected in the Constitution, primarily necessitated the application of the principle of legal reforms and the protection of human rights in real life.

The establishment of the Ombudsman Institute was another important step taken on the path of creating new efficient human rights protection mechanisms. Establishment of the Institute of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Azerbaijan for the first time was reflected in the Presidential Decree “On the Actions in Provision of Human Rights and Freedoms” dated February 22, 1998. On December 28, 2001 the Constitutional Law “On the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan” was adopted by the Milli Majlis (the Parliament of Azerbaijan). Logistics and legal framework were created for the establishment and activity of the Ombudsman Institute. On March 5, 2002, the President signed a Decree on the implementation of this Law. The first Commissioner of the Republic of Azerbaijan was elected by the Milli Majlis on July 2, 2002.

Also, on 24 December 2002, the Constitutional Law “on Regulation of the Exercise of Human. Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan” was adopted.
Azerbaijan is a party to the fundamental international legal documents in the field of human rights. The Republic of Azerbaijan acceded to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in 2001. According to Article 148 of the Constitution, the international treaties, to which Azerbaijan is a party, constitute an inalienable integral part of Azerbaijan’s legislative system. The Republic of Azerbaijan has also acceded to important international human rights instruments, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1984.

In the context of Azerbaijan’s modern development, the concentration of efforts in the area of lawful state-building and the protection of human rights is defined as one of the main directions of state policy. Under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, who successfully continued the policy of the great leader Heydar Aliyev, comprehensive measures are being implemented in our country to protect human rights and freedoms. The National Action Plan on Protection of Human Rights in the Republic of Azerbaijan adopted in 2006, and the National Program for Action to Raise Effectiveness of the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan have been instrumental in elevating the process of human rights protection to a qualitatively new level, developing new cooperation strategy at universal and regional levels and establishing the relations of partnership between the State and civil society.

“Azerbaijan 2020: A Look into the Future” concept of development, approved in December 2012, has also opened up new opportunities for the effective protection of human rights.

Laws protecting human rights and freedoms, such as Constitutional Law “on Regulation of the Exercise of Human. Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan”, Electoral Code, “on Freedom of Assembly”, “on Political Parties”, “on Non-Governmental Organizations (Public Associations and Foundations)”, “on Freedom of Religion”, “on Receiving Information”, “on Freedom of Information”, “on Guarantees of Gender Equality”, “on ensuring rights and freedoms of persons in detention facilities”, etc. have been adopted in the country. In order to adapt these acts to existing international standards, the Azerbaijani authorities have worked closely with international organizations, in particular the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and other influential organizations.

Today Azerbaijan has a fairly extensive legislative framework for the protection of human rights, in line with international legal standards. There are specific mechanisms for legal protection of these rights. There is political will of the state to implement measures to ensure human rights and freedoms. The country has been implementing reforms and institutional changes on a regular basis in this direction. As a result of these reforms, the legislation is improved and adapted to the relevant international instruments, and the rights and freedoms of the population are ensured at a higher level.

Azerbaijan’s accession to international human rights agreements, the establishment of a human rights research institute, ensuring full compliance of laws and regulations with international human rights standards, improving legal mechanisms, further developing cooperation with human rights institutions, training specialists in research and education issues in international institutions and centres operating in this field, and compliance with human rights obligations and other issues is a key indicator of the value attached to human rights in our country.

The democratic legal reforms carried out in Azerbaijan have created the conditions for important advances in the protection of human rights. During this period, our country has acceded to many legal acts. In August 1998, the UN and the Azerbaijani government signed a Memorandum on a Joint Project to Support Human Rights and Democracy.

In recent years, cardinal reforms carried out in our country, in all spheres have further improved the mechanisms for the reliable protection of human rights and freedoms. In particular, the Decree of 10 February 2017, signed by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev “On streamlining activities in the penitentiary sphere, humanizing the policy of punishment and expanding the use of alternative types of punishment and procedural measures of coercion that are not related to isolation from society”, as well as other decrees and orders signed in this area, have given important impetus to human rights work in the country. As a result of fundamental reforms in this field and signing of decrees and orders of programmed character, the work carried out in Azerbaijan in the direction of human rights protection is highly regarded by international organizations.

Recommended literature:

  1. İnsan hüquqları və Avropa konvensiyası: yeni demokratik təfəkkürün vasitə və yolları / AMEA İnsan Hüquqları İnstitutu ; red. M. Cavad. - Bakı : [n. y.], 2000. - 69 s.
  2. Babaoğlu, Hikmət. İnsan hüquqları və azadlıqları : tarixi təkamülü, beynəlxalq və politoloji aspektləri, Azərbaycan təcrübəsi: monoqrafiya / H. Babaoğlu ; elmi red. Ə. Əhmədov. - Bakı : Elm, 2006. - 244 s.
  3. İnsan hüquqları / L. Henkin [et al.] ; red. heyəti R. K. Klark [et al.]. - Bakı : Adiloğlu, 2008. - 1232 s.
  4. İnsan hüquqları və layiqli idarəetmə: körpülərin qurulması / tərt.: H. O. Sano, G. Alfredsson, R. Klappin. - Bakı : CBS Polygraphic Production, 2007. - 268 s.
  5. Права человека: энциклопедический словарь / В. П. Авдеева [и др.] ; отв. ред. С. С. Алексеев. - М. : НОРМА, 2009. - 656 с.