Ministers’ Deputies

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CM/Inf(2014)13 30 April 2014 and Addendum 10 June 2014 [revised 10 September 2014]



Priorities of the Azerbaijani Chairmanship
of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
(14 May – 13 November 2014)



The Republic of Azerbaijan will assume, for the first time since becoming a member of the Council of Europe, the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in May 2014. Over the next six months, Azerbaijan will invest its efforts in furthering the objectives of the Council of Europe around its three key pillars - human rights, rule of law and democracy.

The priorities of the Azerbaijani chairmanship have been identified taking full account of the topical issues on the agenda of the Council of Europe and persistent challenges encountered by member States. During its chairmanship, Azerbaijan is determined to contribute to the mission of the Council of Europe proceeding from its positive record and comparative advantages in key areas.

The Chairmanship of Azerbaijan will place particular attention on the following priority areas:

- Strengthening the rule of law through enhanced co-operation in combating corruption, including manipulation of sports results

Combating corruption has been one of the priorities of the Government of Azerbaijan and considerable progress has been achieved recently in Azerbaijan against this scourge. The adoption and implementation of the National Action Plans on Fighting Corruption and Promoting Open Government, as well as the recent establishment and successful functioning of the State Agency for Services to Citizens and Social Innovations (ASAN Service), have served as effective instruments in fighting this phenomenon.

Corruption is a problem undermining democracy and threatening the rule of law. As such, the fight against corruption has become a priority task of the Council of Europe.

During its chairmanship, Azerbaijan will contribute to the efforts of the Council of Europe in combating this global phenomenon. In this context, a high-level conference on combating corruption will be organised in Baku on 30 June- 1 July 2014.

During the Chairmanship of Azerbaijan, the Committee of Ministers is expected to adopt the Council of Europe Convention on the manipulation of sports competitions. The negotiation of a draft convention, which was launched in accordance with the Resolution adopted at the 18th Council of Europe Informal Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport held in Baku on 22 September 2010, was concluded in January 2014. Given the important role that the Council of Europe can play in this field, Azerbaijan will support the adoption and subsequent opening of this legal instrument for signature during its chairmanship. The determination of Azerbaijan to make the first ever European Games in Baku in 2015 a success story is another reason to promote the adoption of this Convention during its chairmanship.

- The consolidation of culturally diverse societies based on mutual respect and understanding

Managing cultural diversity through enhanced mutual respect and understanding in constantly growing and enriching societies has become one of the important priorities in today’s Europe. The Council of Europe’s “White paper on intercultural dialogue” underlines the value of intercultural dialogue in building stable and prosperous societies. As a country with an overwhelming majority of Muslim population, which enjoys a tradition of a peaceful coexistence of different ethnic and religious communities, Azerbaijan will contribute to combating discrimination and intolerance in Europe not least through highlighting the role of intercultural dialogue. The 2014 Council of Europe annual exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue to be held in Baku on 1-2 September 2014 will provide a valuable platform for deliberations on pertinent issues with the participation of well-known figures in this field.

The Council of Europe Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes has also proven its value as a tool to enhance cultural diversity and promote mutual understanding, dialogue and co-operation. Azerbaijan, as one of the co-founders of this partial agreement, will contribute to the mission of the Cultural Routes by hosting the 2014 Advisory Forum of the Cultural Routes in Baku on 30-31 October 2014.

The preservation and promotion of cultural heritage also plays a crucial role in fostering cultural diversity. An event focusing on the European dimension of Heritage Days will be organised in Baku in early October 2014 to give additional impetus to the aims of the Heritage Days and raise further awareness of the need and importance to protect cultural heritage.

The Chairmanship of Azerbaijan will also support the "No hate speech movement” of the Council of Europe. An important youth meeting will be organised within the framework of the youth against hate speech campaign on 1-5 October 2014, which will aim at improving visibility of this campaign and consolidating its accomplishments.

The issue of governance of culture, in particular during the digital era, has recently gained prominence on the agenda of the Council of Europe. The Chairmanship of Azerbaijan will continue with this trend by addressing the challenges that may arise from digitisation and focusing in this respect on ensuring an enabling environment for digital culture. These issues will be further explored during the Platform meeting of exchange on Culture and Digitisation to be held in early July 2014 in Baku.

- Ensuring social cohesion and social sustainability: promoting access to human rights of vulnerable groups

Azerbaijan considers social cohesion and social sustainability as an important element of any stable and prosperous society. The Government of Azerbaijan has deployed significant efforts in recent years to create job opportunities, generate income and reduce poverty in line with the concept of development “Azerbaijan 2020: Look into the future” which represents a major framework for streamlining the action of the Government in facilitating sustainable economic growth and high social welfare.

The efforts of the Azerbaijani chairmanship will seek to complement the Council of Europe's undertakings in ensuring everyone's access to social rights without any discrimination, with a special emphasis on vulnerable groups.

Under this priority line, the Azerbaijani chairmanship is planning to convene in Baku a conference to review the Council of Europe Social Cohesion Strategy and Action Plan.

Experiencing itself large-scale displacement due to foreign occupation, Azerbaijan will undoubtedly pay close attention to the protection of human rights of internally displaced persons, a vulnerable segment of the population, within relevant activities to be carried out during its chairmanship.

The 21st meeting of coordinators for the Council of Europe Charter of Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights, to be held in Baku on 20-21 May 2014, will debate, amongst other topics, the importance of making changes in the lives of children in vulnerable situations through citizenship and human rights education.

- Youth education in human rights and democratic citizenship: nurturing a generation of educated and responsible youth and ensuring their access to rights

Building on consistent and continuous measures undertaken by Azerbaijan in the field of education and believing in the potential of this sphere in the overall agenda of the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan will place particular emphasis on education during its chairmanship. This objective will be pursued in close association with youth empowerment and enhanced access of youth to their rights.

At the national level, the policy pursued by the Government of Azerbaijan is strongly youth-oriented with special focus on their education. The share of public spending for education in GDP increases constantly and this is certainly being translated into quality education and its closer integration into the European education system.

Azerbaijan will host the 4th regional ministerial meeting on the implementation of the European Higher Education Area in October 2014. This regional meeting of ministers will provide a good opportunity to further consolidate the democratic mission of higher education and therefore contribute to further developing the European Higher Education Area.

Baku will also be the host for the UN Global Forum on Youth Policy on 28-30 October 2014, which will benefit from the strong institutional support of the Council of Europe.

The protection and promotion of human rights with a particular focus on enhancing the effectiveness of the Convention system will remain one of the key priorities of the Council of Europe during the current biennial cycle. The Chairmanship of Azerbaijan will strive to contribute to the efforts of the Council of Europe in this field, through extending its support to the follow-up to the Declarations adopted in Interlaken (2010), Izmir (2011) and Brighton (2012). Special attention will be given to the effective implementation of the Convention at national level and the further strengthening of capacities in this field. To this end, a high-level conference on the role of national judges in enhancing the domestic application of the Convention will be held in Baku in October 2014.

During its chairmanship, Azerbaijan will bring its strong support to the reform process of the Council of Europe. The Chairmanship of Azerbaijan will also support the further strengthening of co-operation with other international organisations, most notably the European Union, the OSCE and the United Nations.

The progress of the Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions will also be closely followed by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is keen to contribute to the reflection process on the need and importance of strengthened and more structural political dialogue and deeper engagement with neighbouring regions. In this context, the chairmanship will host a high-level conference on the Council of Europe neighbourhood policy in Baku on 7-8 November 2014. This conference will take stock of the progress achieved so far in the implementation of the neighbourhood policy and provide an outlook for its future development.

* * *

Addendum

Joint priorities of the Chairmanships of Azerbaijan, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Committee of Ministers

Azerbaijan, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina, during their successive chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, will focus on strengthening the three fundamental pillars of the Council of Europe – the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

The duty to honour the obligations relating to the principles of the Council of Europe lies first and foremost with states. However, the protection, defence and promotion of these principles are better ensured through joint action.

For this reason, Azerbaijan, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina will strive to foster co-operation and synergy between their respective activities in a number of fields related to these three key areas, and with other international organisations such as the European Union and the OSCE.

In the human rights field, the three chairmanships reiterate that the rights enshrined in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and in the European Social Charter apply to all members of society, including all categories of vulnerable individuals. The latter must be able to enjoy, fully and without discrimination, the rights to which they are entitled under these treaties and the other Council of

Europe instruments. The three chairmanships shall work together in order to promote and strengthen the protection afforded to them; they shall take action to overcome the obstacles preventing the full enjoyment of human rights by these individuals.

Azerbaijan, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina will undertake to promote the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular by placing an emphasis on the execution of the Court’s judgments and the application of the Convention at national level.

Azerbaijan, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina believe that corruption undermines the very foundations of the rule of law, slows down economic development and contributes to political instability. Accordingly, the three countries have agreed to make the fight against corruption a shared objective and to take action to ensure that good governance is the norm in both the public sphere and the private sector.

Azerbaijan, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina attach particular importance to the work carried out by the Council of Europe to promote greater social cohesion. United by the needs and expectations specific to their age, young people constitute a social group requiring special attention. And this must begin by ensuring full respect for children’s rights as defined in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The three countries are concerned about the living conditions and future prospects of many young people in Europe and firmly believe that these young people should be able to live and achieve fulfilment in an environment which will guarantee them respect for the fundamental values of the Council of Europe and the benefit of social policies focusing on cohesion and solidarity. They believe that the emphasis must be placed on the Organisation’s youth policy which seeks to offer young people appropriate learning and training opportunities, successful integration into society, the transition to independence and their participation in decision-making and in civil society. During their chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the three countries will act jointly to promote and strengthen the Council of Europe’s action in these areas and in this way help to offer the young generations a more just and more inclusive European society.

Programme of events to be held in Azerbaijan during its chairmanship
of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

 

Event

Dates

Responsible body in Azerbaijan

     

1.

Meeting of coordinators for the Council of Europe Charter of Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights

20-21 May

Ministry of Education, Human Rights Commissioner’s (Ombudsperson) Office

2.

Meetings of the PACE Bureau and Standing Committee

22-23 May

Milli Majlis (Parliament)

3.

Seminar on "Local self-government in Azerbaijan and youth policy"

16 June

Ministry of Justice

4.

Meeting of the CLRAE Bureau

17 June

Ministry of Justice

5.

Baku Conference of European Ombudspersons

18-20 June

Human Rights Commissioner’s (Ombudsperson) Office

6.

High-level conference on combating corruption

30 June-1 July

General Prosecutor’s Office,

State Agency for Services to Citizens and Social Innovations under the President, Commission on Combating Corruption.

7.

Plenary meeting of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)

3-4 July

Ministry of Justice

8.

Conference on the First Platform of exchange on Culture and Digitisation

4-5 July

Ministry of Culture and Tourism

9.

Annual exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue

1-2 September

State Committee on Work with Religious Associations, Ministry of Culture and Tourism

10.

Conference to review the Council of Europe Social Cohesion Strategy and Action Plan

10-11 September

Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population

11.

Conference on public service delivery in the context of human rights and good governance

24-25 September

State Agency for Services to Citizens and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

12.

Event within "No hate speech movement" of the Council of Europe

1-5 October

Ministry of Youth and Sport, State Committee on Work with Religious Associations

13.

Celebration of European Heritage Days 2014

13-17 October

Ministry of Culture and Tourism

14.

4th regional ministerial meeting on the implementation of the European Higher Education Area

22-23 October

Ministry of Education

15.

High-level conference on the role of national judges in enhancing the domestic application of the ECHR

24-25 October

Supreme Court

16.

UN Global Forum on Youth Policy

28-30 October

Ministry of Youth and Sport

17.

Cultural Routes Advisory Forum

30-31 October

Ministry of Culture and Tourism

18.

High-level conference on the Council of Europe Neighbourhood Policy

7-8 November

Ministry of Foreign Affairs



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