October 25, 2021, marked the second anniversary of Azerbaijan assuming the Chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement. Exactly 2 years ago, i.e., in 2019, Azerbaijan took over the Chairmanship of the NAM from Venezuela at the 18th Summit of the Movement held at Baku. During the 18th NAM Summit, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev had remarked that Azerbaijan would build its Chairmanship priorities and activities on the basis of the Bandung principles and resolutely defend the justice and norms of international law.
“During Chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan will build its priorities and activities on the historical Bandung principles. The Bandung principles, covering such concepts as respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity of all countries, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, protection of mutual interests and promotion of cooperation, coincide with the fundamental principles of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy.”, Aliyev had remarked. Two years of Azerbaijan Chairmanship manifests the Aliyev has lived up to his words.
One of the biggest challenges facing NAM and its Member States was the COVID19 pandemic. Azerbaijan took its role as the chair of the Movement responsibly and undertook serious efforts to ensure the Movement’s adequate and timely response to the challenges caused by the pandemic. Azerbaijan put forward a number of initiatives to consolidate global efforts against the pandemic. On May 4 2020, an online Summit level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group in response to COVID-19, under the theme of “United against COVID-19 pandemic” was held. Following the Summit, NAM adopted a Declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.
As a practical outcome of the Summit, a database encompassing the basic humanitarian and medical needs of NAM Member States was created, and the World Health Organization uses the database as a reference point for identifying the existing needs of NAM Member States in addressing the pandemic It was on the initiative of Azerbaijan on behalf of NAM countries that a resolution on “Ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic” was adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council during its 46th session held in 2020. Azerbaijan also made voluntary financial contributions to the World Health Organization of $10 million, half of which was direct assistance to the NAM Member States
The political declaration by the NAM Ministers after their meeting under the Chairmanship of Azerbaijan also expressed deep concern on the ongoing challenges of uneven access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, and the difficulties that the majority of countries face in accessing and supplying these to their populations.
Azerbaijan has continued the legacy of NAM in respecting and promoting human rights at multilateral forums. NAM reiterated this position during the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council where Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement stated that the Movement was committed to further strengthen constructive engagement with the UN Member States on both bilateral and multilateral human rights issues, and appreciated the efforts of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in advancing human rights at global level, particularly in the time of global emergency caused by COVID-19. NAM stressed the importance of upholding the universality of and dealing impartially with all human rights, without distinction between countries.
Azerbaijan has also suggested convening a high-level meeting of the NAM Member States to exchange views and formulate the position of the Movement concerning the post-COVID-19 period. Azerbaijani chairmanship has also steps to develop cooperation among parliamentarians of the NAM Member States.
Azerbaijan as the NAM Chair has also launched a host of initiatives. Prominent among them is the NAM Youth Network, which was launched on October 5, 2021. The objective of the NAM Youth Network is to enable the youth representatives of NAM Member States to exchange ideas, visions and perspectives on current challenges that they face in ensuring sustainable progress and how their difficulties could be overcome through concerted and adequate responses of their States.
Thus, Azerbaijan as the NAM Chair has carried the legacy of NAM forward. Ilham Aliyev aptly remarked that Azerbaijan as the Chair of the NAM will spare no effort to further strengthen the NAM’s role in addressing global challenges in international relations and defend justice, international law and the legitimate interests of the NAM Member States.
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