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Statement by Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at 39th Session of Human Rights Council



Thank you very much,
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is my first appearance at the Human Rights Council in my current capacity and I would want to use this opportunity for sharing with you the recent fundamental democratic changes in Armenia and our vision for the future.

In April hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of cities and towns of Armenia to peacefully protest against the authorities and the entrenched negative practices undermining justice and the rule of law. They claimed direct and vocal participation in public affairs. Most conspicuously, public protests in Armenia have demonstrated the strength of our civil society. They have demonstrated the evolution of the public of Armenia to a considerably high level of political maturity and legal literacy.

The transformation in Armenia was of a strictly domestic nature and was motivated by distinctly domestic realities. It was carried out by the people, and for the people, having women and youth in particular at the forefront of the change. Armenia is proud of a vibrant and engaged generation fully in charge of their rights and freedoms.

Following the peaceful mass rallies and equally peaceful transition of power, a new Government was voted in. Over the past four months, empowered with the overwhelming support and mandate of the people, the Government embarked on the implementation of the reform agenda aimed at anchoring resilient democratic institutions, the protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms, strong and independent judiciary, the rule of law, resolutely fighting corruption and promoting equal and fair conditions for all in economic and social life. These objectives take prominence in the Government programme.

Conducting genuinely free and fair elections are equally at the top of this Government’s priorities. In about a week’s time Armenia will hold municipal elections for the capital city of Yerevan. The Government, the Parliament and all relevant institutions are preparing the necessary legal changes and institutional capacities for the conduct of nationwide parliamentary elections, which will consolidate the democratic transformation of Armenia and will accurately reflect the current political landscape. Implementation of all these reforms are not an easy job, there are challenges to face, of course. However, at the heart of the reforms is the resolute political will of the Government, reinforced  by the strong mandate from the people. In all those priorities Armenia successfully and effectively cooperates with all its international partners.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Together with its agenda for democracy, the Government is also reinforcing its reform agenda for development. The wave of modern changes is embracing every walk of life. High technologies and start-ups, creative education and innovation define the nature and the direction of our development agenda, firmly embrace the national talent as the drivers of smart development.

Conducive environment for innovation, creative thinking and the use of technologies is amongst the strategic priorities of the Government.  Often all the Government needs to do is just support and promote private initiatives and public-private partnerships. Just to share one single example, every year thousands of young people sign up for free state-of-art creative education and technology courses in technological centres across Armenia and learn the ways of channelling creation and innovation into wealth generation.

Mr. President,

The international community at all levels should continue to resolutely address the dangerous phenomena of the abuse of information technologies and the media for the dissemination of hatred and intolerance. History knows well about the dangerous consequences of unbridled hatred. One should be reminded that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Armenia and the Armenian people have been a consistent target for massive and systematic hate induced and xenophobic rhetoric emanating from Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani state propaganda is not merely a product of a targeted policy, but also a consequence of the weak democratic institutions, absence of free media and a poor record of human rights.

We observe a direct correlation between the intensity of bellicose rhetoric and aggressive militarism from Azerbaijan directed against the Armenian people. The crimes committed during the military aggression of Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh in April 2016 reinforce the validity of the exercise of the right to self-determination. This right is of existential value for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia reiterates its strong support to the universality of human rights and their applicability on an equal footing, without any discrimination and distinction in conformity with the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other fundamental instruments. Equally, the commitment to “leave no one behind” is at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We should recognise the existence of territories and peoples that are striving for the realization of their rights and, first of all, the right to self-determination. The acknowledgement of and the respect of the people’s right to self-determination and other related rights are a serious test for the UN and its human rights protection system. Meanwhile, once again, I wish to reiterate the strong commitment of Armenia, of its new Government to the strictly peaceful and negotiated settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, strictly within the internationally agreed format of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship. Armenia reiterates the importance of establishing and promoting an environment conducive to peace. Armenia also underlines the critical priorities of status and security for the people of Nagorno Karabakh.

Mr. President,

Armenia has been actively involved in the initiatives launched within the UN and co-operated with many structures and subdivisions of the organization. Armenia is a signatory to numerous international treaties including to all fundamental instruments in the sphere of human rights. International treaties ratified or acceded by Armenia are an integral part of the legal system of the country and have prevalence over national laws.

Since May 2006, the Armenian Government has extended a standing invitation to special procedures of the UN human rights machinery. Soon we will receive the Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly.

Armenia strongly supports the Universal Periodic Review process as an instrument for assessment of successes and challenges pertaining to human rights. As a good practice, we have been voluntarily submitting UPR mid-term reports.

Armenia has established an internal mechanism for reporting and coordinating activities in a follow up to the recommendations stemming from the UN human rights mechanisms. The Foreign Ministry has elaborated a consolidated database of all national commitments and has identified focal points from line ministries in charge of implementation and co-operation with specific monitoring mechanisms. This national mechanism, together with the National Action Plan for the Protection of Human Rights, constitutes an integral part of Armenia’s human rights protection system and is a solid platform for effective cooperation between the Government and the civil society.

Armenia continues the practice of preparing periodic reports for submission to different UN treaty bodies with the active participation of NGOs  and broad public consultations. The latest public discussion on the draft report on the implementation of provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was organized at the beginning of August.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like stress that in a relatively short period of time the new Government of Armenia has managed to considerably advance the democratic reforms in a comprehensive and irreversible manner. The Government has an overwhelming popular support for upholding the ideas of the Armenian Velvet Revolution and is fully determined to carry out the ambitious reform agenda.

Thank you very much Mr. President.