Statement by Mr. Tofig Musayev

on behalf of the delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan

at the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,

Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Durban, South Africa, 31 August - 7 September 2001


Madam Chair,

First of all, allow me to congratulate you on behalf of the delegation of Azerbaijan on assuming the post of the Chairperson of the World Conference and express confidence that under your leadership the Conference will cope successfully with the complex. of issues before it.

I would like also to express my deep gratitude to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for holding the World Conference. It is notable that this Conference is taking place in a country symbolizing the unbending will in fighting against racism.

My Government highly appreciates the efforts of the Secretariat and personal contribution of Mrs. Mary Robinson in preparing of the World Conference.

Madam Chair,

Azerbaijan is a multiethnic and multi-religious country and national policy is planned and carried out with due regard for the legitimate interests of persons belonging to minorities. In the spirit of traditional tolerance and harmonic coexistence of different groups, the equality of all citizens without any ethnic, religious or linguistic definition is guaranteed by the law.

Under the Constitution and legislation of Azerbaijan, racial discrimination is prohibited in my country. The will of the people of Azerbaijan and the realization of its destiny are expressed through participation in the process of representative democracy. The recognition, utilization and implementation of human rights based on equality and basic freedoms in political, economic, social, cultural and all other areas of social life is encouraged and protected.

Azerbaijan's various minorities are broadly represented in State structures, the Government, and the National Assembly. In towns, districts, settlements and villages where there are compact groups of minorities the leading posts in the State bodies are held by representatives of the local population.

Over the past few years, cultural centers, charities and other social organizations relating to all the minorities in the country have been set up. These organizations receive strong material and financial aid from the State budget and the President's Fund, specifically granting plots of land and tax exemptions.

Madam Chair,

We firmly believe that the promotion and protection of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, contribute to the political and social stability of States in which they live.

At the same time, while focusing on minority rights, we should also give our attention to their duties to respect the national legislation and the rights of others, in particular those of persons belonging to the majority or to other minorities.

In this regard, it should be pointed out that minority rights cannot be interpreted as permitting any activity contrary to the fundamental principles of international law and in particular sovereign equality, territorial integrity and political independence of States.

Disrespect to these obligations is a common cause of conflicts in various parts in the world. In some well-known instances, the externally inspired secessionist movements, accompanying by foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, leads to depriving the majority of the population of fundamental rights.

As the experience shows, the policy aimed at the protection of existence and identity of minority does not guarantee from ethnic tensions and hostilities. A cursory look at the world today shows that there are several minorities that pursue extremely provocative and violent policies towards the majority of population and other minorities.

External encouragement in such instances to drives for secessionist activities, to the extent of open intervention, is disturbing to the international legal order.
Groundless territorial claims towards Azerbaijan and externally inspired secessionist movement and inter-ethnic hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan have turned later on into one of the most tragic conflicts of the past century. This armed conflict resulted in occupation by the neighboring Armenia of the twenty per cent of the territory of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the territory four times bigger than that region, gross and flagrant violations of international humanitarian law, forcible expulsion of about one million Azerbaijanis from their areas of origin. A total ethnic cleansing has been carried out in Armenia and the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

Despite the international community has clearly defined the legal basis for settlement, establishing the framework for negotiations, unconstructive position of Armenia, claiming either the independence for Nagorno-Karabakh or its unification with Armenia, has not allowed achieving the peace.

Seeking a realistic formula for compromise based on adherence to the norms and principles of international law, Azerbaijan at the same time strongly rejects the settlement models that infringe on its sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of the State. In this context and despite the previous bitter experience, we proceed from the position that a number of concepts of selfrule, including autonomy, may constitute practical way to preserve and promote the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of persons belonging to minorities within the state of their residence. Otherwise, peace, stability, and security achieved as a result of acceptance of outcomes of militant separatism and aggression, can neither be strong nor lasting.

Madam Chair,

As pointed out in the Vision Declaration, which had been signed by the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, «the horrors of racism have deeply wounded the victim and debased the perpetrator. These horrors are still with us in various forms. It is now time to confront them and to take comprehensive measures against them».

Discrimination between human beings on the grounds of race, color or ethnic origin, which are incompatible with democracy and fundamental human values, constitute a serious threat to friendly and peaceful relations among nations, as well as endanger peace, security, stability and development in the world.

At the same time, it should be recognized that the new challenges to humanity are observed as a result of indecisiveness and even ineffectiveness of international mechanisms, which are often unable to ensure the real implementation of the principle of inevitability of punishment for committed crimes.

Therefore, my Government attaches the great importance to the outcomes of the World Conference, which should lead to decisive action at the national, regional and international levels with a view to help those who suffer on daily basis from racism and racial discrimination.

Let me assure you, Madam Chair, that the Republic of Azerbaijan will continue its efforts in contributing to the success of the World Conference and the adoption of the Declaration and the Programme of Action, which will draw up concrete recommendations on ways and means of joined measures aimed at combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

I thank you, Madam Chair.