Mr. Yashar Aliyev
Acting Chairman of the Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan
at 25th Special
Session of the General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of
implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements
New York 7 June 2001
Today, the world is at a crucial stage of its development. The on-going process of globalization is accompanied by the increasing pace of urbanization. For the first time in the history of humanity, the larger portion of the world's population will be living in cities. Meanwhile, there are about 100 million homeless and 1 billion people living in improper conditions. Unfortunately, these figures are increasing.
Obviously, the main responsibility for addressing the challenges of urbanization rests with national Governments. At the same time, without significant technical, financial and other kinds of assistance from the developed countries and relevant international institutions, the developing countries and the economies in transition will not be in a position to deal effectively with the emerging large-scale problems caused by urbanization.
Creation of appropriate living conditions for population is a priority task for the Government of Azerbaijan. It implements vigorously the Istanbul Agenda and does its best to engage the representatives of the private sector, NGOs and other actors of the civil society in this process. Implementing the Habitat Agenda, my Government conducts democratic and economic reforms, carries out measures to eradicate poverty and renders its support to low-income families and other vulnerable social groups.
Unfortunately, the processes of democratization and economic reforms in Azerbaijan are hampered by the ongoing military aggression by the Republic of Armenia against my country that has resulted in occupation of 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan. For more than 10 years the Nakhichevan region of Azerbaijan has been blockaded by Armenia.
Armenia's aggression has led to the destruction of the centuries-old cities and settlements. In the occupied territories, more than 900 cities and towns, some 600 schools, 250 medical institutions, and all museums and historical and cultural monuments have been destroyed. About 1 million Azerbaijanis,which represents every eighth citizen of the country, have lost their homes, and this is the ninth year in which they have been living in tents in unbearable conditions.
After the Istanbul Conference, the Government of Azerbaijan has established the Agency for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the Liberated Territories that carries out its activities in accordance with guidelines of the Habitat Agenda. Since 1997 the Agency has restored 2145 houses and infrastructure facilities in 4 administrative regions of Azerbaijan liberated from occupation.
The adoption of the law "On the basics of town-planning in the Republic of Azerbaijan" in 1999 has laid the necessary legal foundation for the activities in this area. New, up-to-date environmental laws have also been adopted, namely, "On Environmental Protection", "On Environmental Security", "On Sanitary and Epidemiological Safety" and others. With the adoption of the law "On the Status of Municipalities" in 1999, the process of decentralization and transfer of power from the central Government to the local authorities has begun.
It goes without saying that a fundamental prerequisite for the successful implementation of national programs of actions and of the of the Habitat Agenda is comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the world. Armed conflicts, state terrorism, foreign aggression and occupation that have disastrous consequences for human settlements should not be only opposed by each and every state, but must be decisively suppressed by the international community.
The implementation of the Habitat Agenda is an integral part of the poverty eradication process and of sustainable development. Our delegation is certain that the Declaration on cities and other human settlements in the new millennium, which we are about to adopt, will contribute to the sustainable development of cities, and the work in this field will be actively pursued at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg next year.
In conclusion, I would like to express our delegation's confidence that
the concerted efforts by all countries to implement the Habitat Agenda
will allow us to cope with the relevant challenges of the new millennium
and to create a stable and safe Common Home on our planet.