Reply to Azerbaijan on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Azerbaijan: Statement to the PC

I’d like to thank our distinguished Azerbaijani colleague for his response. I just wanted to address a couple of points that he raised.

First, the idea that this is “just a few cases”:

I think part of the concern that was raised – not only by my delegation but also by others – is that while only “a few cases” were mentioned today, they come on the heels of many others. And they are each of concern to us, and as a whole they appear to be a trend which is an increasingly dire crack-down on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan. I think it is important to underscore that at the heart of this organization is the understanding that a crack-down on human rights and fundamental freedoms is one of the early warning signs that we have about security threats. And therefore it is of concern not only as a human rights issue, but also it suggests the kind of early warning for security threats for which we are supposed to be on the lookout. Many of us often say we need better early warning signs. And part of the early warning system we have are issues like this one.

Secondly, I just wanted to reply to the statement that raising these concerns has an effect on our bilateral relationship.

I want to make two comments: one is that the cases have an effect on the bilateral relationship. They make it more difficult to have the kind of partnership that we would like to have with the government of Azerbaijan. It is more difficult for both political and substantive reasons to have the kind of partnership that we would like to have when Azerbaijan is exercising a crack-down on its own citizens. Secondly, I think we should also recall that this organization is founded on commitments we have made to each other. And raising concerns about a failure to uphold these commitments is both the right and proper and the respectful thing to do. And violating those commitments is itself an act of disrespect and it has a negative consequence on bilateral relationships.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Special Permanent Council, Vienna