BAKU (27 May 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, today urged for a peace agreement which will “fully restore the human rights of IDPs in Azerbaijan, in particular their right to voluntary return in safety and dignity,” and called for the international community’s support.
“It is urgent to reach a peaceful settlement to the conflict in order to resolve the protracted situation of internal displacement, which has lasted more than 20 years in Azerbaijan,” Mr. Beyani said at the end of his official follow-up visit to the country.
“Peace and development rights-based approaches to durable solutions for IDPs go hand in hand and one cannot fully be reached without the other,” he stressed. “A development rights-based approach to durable solutions for IDPs in Azerbaijan therefore requires peace as a matter of urgency.”
The Special Rapporteur welcomed the significant progress made by the Azerbaijani authorities to improve the living conditions of the population in general and of IDPs in particular, both in rural and urban areas. He noted with satisfaction that change had taken place since the last visit carried out in 2010 by the previous independent expert, and commended the Government for new efforts and commitment to ensuring respect for the human rights of IDPs.
However, Mr. Beyani called for a development rights-based approach that includes IDPs in development planning strategies in the areas of housing, education, health and employment to strengthen their resilience, livelihood opportunities and self-reliance.
“IDPs should be fully involved in the decisions made for them,” the independent expert said, emphasizing the importance of securing their participation throughout those processes in full compliance with the UN Guiding principles on internal displacement*.
“A survey of intent of IDPs should be carried out in order to arrive at sustainable solutions for them,” he advised. “Durable solutions for IDPs cannot be achieved without the consultation and participation of IDPs. All durable solutions should remain as options open to them.”
In line with his predecessor’s recommendation, Walter Kaelin who visited Azerbaijan in 2007 and 2010, Mr. Beyani insisted on a comprehensive needs assessment to differentiate the levels of needs of the people displaced for the past 20 years.
“Not all IDPs have the same needs and the only way to ensure that those who require special attention are adequately identified is through such a comprehensive assessment,” he underscored.
The Special Rapporteur also called upon humanitarian and development actors to act jointly and map out concerted actions aimed at ensuring durable solutions.
With regard to health, he noted that despite the authorities’ efforts to develop an action plan, the mental health assessment performed by the World Health Organization has not yet been fully been implemented with concrete actions to ensuring more comprehensive health services, including in the area of mental health, and increased deployment of qualified medical staff to rural areas.
Mr. Beyani met with Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hassanov; the Ministers Economy and Industry and Health; and the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Labour and Social Protection, and Education. He met with the Deputy President of the State Oil Fund. The expert also held meetings with the Ombudsperson of Azerbaijan, representatives of the international community and non-governmental organizations.
During his week-long mission, the Special Rapporteur also visited locations where internally displaced persons live in and around Baku and in the Western district of Agdam.
The Special Rapporteur will present his full report to the Human Rights Council in June 2015.
(*) Check the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/Standards.aspx
Chaloka Beyani, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx
Log on to the 2010 report by the previous mandate holder: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/Visits.aspx
UN Human Rights, Country Page – Azerbaijan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/AZIndex.aspx
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