The United Nations World Humanitarian Summit organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and held in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 23 and 24, 2016 was an initiative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.
Indeed, Ban Ki-moon, in his Five-Year Action Agenda, released in January 2012, presented his idea to develop a humanitarian system that was more global, accountable, and robust. The main philosophy of this agenda was to organize a World Humanitarian Summit to help share knowledge and establish common best practices among the wide spectrum of bodies working in humanitarian activities.
So, the Summit has three main goals which can be enumerated as to re-inspire and reinvigorate a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles; to initiate a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be resilient to shocks; and to share best practices which can help save lives around the world, put affected people at the center of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering.
The Summit held at the highest political level, including approximately 5,000 participants representing global leaders from government, business, aid organizations, civil society, affected communities and youth, among others discusses how to effectively respond to major humanitarian challenges, and how to be better prepared to meet challenges of the future.
The priority issues include a new global approach to manage forced displacement, with an emphasis on ensuring hope and dignity for refugees or internally displaced people, and support of host countries and communities; empowering women and girls, and catalysing action to gender equality; adapting new approaches to respond to protracted crises and recurrent disasters, reduce vulnerability, and manage risk, by bridging the divide between development and humanitarian partners; securing adequate and predictable finance to save lives and alleviate suffering; reinforcing the centrality of protection in humanitarian action and increasing respect for International Humanitarian Law; and adapting to new challenges through local, inclusive, and context specific responses.
Azerbaijan is represented at this Summit by the President of Republic, Ilham Aliyev.
Indeed, it is not by accidental that Azerbaijan participates to this Summit, because this country not only has its own concerns to express, it has also a large experience to share with the world community in order to fight humanitarian crises.
Azerbaijan’s main concern is related to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. As we know all, Azerbaijan faces humanitarian crisis caused by the military aggression and ethnic cleansing policy of Armenia. For more than 20 years, the Republic of Azerbaijan has been suffering from the devastating impact of the occupation of 20 percent of its internationally recognized territory by Armenia. The number of refugees and IDPs from the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region and other seven adjacent regions, as well as those expelled from their native lands in Armenia is more than 1 million.
During the occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands, Armenian army and leadership had committed military crimes against humanity. One of such tragic examples is the Khojaly Genocide. As a result of this genocide, 613 innocent civilians, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly were murdered, 1275 people captured and 150 went missing. Already 10 countries of the world have officially recognized the Khojaly Genocide.
Four resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in relation to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict demand the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately since more than 20 years, Armenia continues to ignore those resolutions.
Despite the ceasefire reached in 1994, the continuous violation of ceasefire by Armenia and shelling of the Azerbaijani civilian population have become more intensive and violent recently. As a result of the attack by Armenia in early April, civilians also lost their lives, over 30 persons were wounded and more than 500 houses were damaged. During those events, Armenian army used also prohibited chemical ammunition against the civilian population. Clear example of that was disarming of an unexploded white phosphorus shell in presence of 20 military attaches from 13 countries and the OSCE representatives following that incident.
As President Ilham Aliyev mentioned at his speech, Armenian officials are even threatening to use nuclear weapon against Azerbaijan. Former prime minister, parliament members and other officials of Armenia stated that Armenia owns a nuclear bomb.
Azerbaijan has raised an issue of shutting down Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia, not only because it is outdated and located in highly seismic zone, but also there is information that Armenia is illegally using the radioactive waste.
So, this Summit was an appropriate platform for Azerbaijan to draw the attention of world community to the grave situation to which Azerbaijan has to face for more than 20 years. This Summit was also a good occasion to share the large experience of Azerbaijan with the world community on fighting big size humanitarian crises.
It is useful to remind that although the Western countries, the largest economy of the world are today unable to receive 2-3 million refugees, at the first years of its independence, with a very small capacity, Azerbaijan received 1 million refugees and IDPs on its territory and managed alone to take care of all of them.
From this point of view, Azerbaijan puts serious efforts to address the outcome of the humanitarian crisis that it faces. At this regard, President Ilham Aliyev underlined that many projects have been implemented to solve social and economic problems of refugees and IDPs, with over $ 6 billion spent for those purposes. In last 12 years, poverty among the refugees and IDP’s was reduced from 75 to 12 percent. In general, the poverty level in Azerbaijan has dropped from 40 down to 5 percent during the same period.
Azerbaijan has implemented all necessary measures in order to ensure complete integration of refugees and IDP’s in the country. Over 90 new settlements were constructed, providing better living conditions for nearly 250 thousand refugees and IDP’s. In the last 12 years, nearly 3000 schools and 6000 medical facilities were built.
Azerbaijan helps at the international level, to countries suffering from similar crises. Last year Azerbaijan supported United Nations’ Ebola response and recovery actions. As President Ilham Aliyev stressed, Azerbaijan not only will share its experience with the world, but also will continue to provide assistance to countries suffering from similar crises.
Dr. Turab GURBANOV