UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai’s speech at the launch event of initial findings of the GBV costs study

Dear Hijran Huseynova, Chair of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs;

Dear Government officials, Members of Parliament, UN colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic and one of the most pervasive human rights violations. It is a moral affront to all women and girls, a mark of shame on all our societies and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.

According to the global estimates one in three ever-partnered women face some form of gender-based violence (GBV) per day. Statistically, this would translate into one billion women across the world abused physically, psychologically or sexually by their intimate partners, other family members or strangers.

GBV has a range of short- and long-term consequences that affect women’s health, and ability to engage in income generating activities, as well as undermine their dignity and equality of opportunity.

The good news is that following concerted efforts of the international community as well as those of the local advocates, violence against women is no longer tolerated as a matter of private affairs. More and more countries are holding up a lens of human rights and justice to GBV by adopting the legal acts that make the cases of abuse either administratively or criminally punishable.

It is commendable that Azerbaijan has also underwent this path by adopting the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence back in 2010 and sending out a message that violence against women constitutes violation of human rights necessitating state intervention.

Today I am pleased to comment on the progress the Government of Azerbaijan has achieved since the adoption of the law. The series of amendments were made to legal and policy documents to create favourable environment for bringing the perpetrators to justice and providing protection and support services to the survivors. Numerous data collection and research initiatives were undertaken. Extensive awareness raising campaigns are regularly held.

Nevertheless, the challenges do remain. According to the findings of the first ever research on GBV in Azerbaijan held back in 2008 the average prevalence rate of lifetime physical violence among ever partnered women was 15%. The International Men and Gender Equality Survey held in 2016 showed increase in GBV prevalence rates with 32.5% of men reporting perpetrating and 32.1% of women experiencing violence.

These figures are thought provocative indeed. While, at first glance, the increase could be attributable to increased prevalence rates of GBV over the years, we should also not disregard the fact that the work held by the Government within these past years including inter alia in partnership with UN agencies have contributed to better understanding of the phenomenon and thus increased response rates among the population.

Notwithstanding different interpretations put forward by the research community to explain the trends, the truth is not far beneath the surface. The women continue being affected by violent acts that not only constitute violations of human rights but also impact sustainable development of the country. And I want to share with you some figures regarding the costly price tag attached to violence against women.

The global cost of GBV was estimated by the UN to be US$1.5 trillion back in 2016, equivalent to approximately 2% of the global gross domestic product. And we will hear in a short while from the expert the figures for Azerbaijan which, I guess, are similar to global estimates.

As you know already the UN is having very bold aspirations to reduce hunger, poverty and ensure decent work and opportunities for all by 2030. And we are pleased to see that the Government of Azerbaijan is fully committed to uphold this vision. However, we are also cognizant that the ability of those subjected to violence to decent work, health and safety is severely affected by cases of violence taking place in the country. Violence against women and girls holds back realization and implementation of the universal achievement of the SDGs.

Therefore, the importance of the project on the costs of GBV held by the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs and supported by UNFPA could not be overstated. The findings will give us a chance to look at the issue from the development angle, thus pushing all to boost the action for reducing GBV by preventing violations of human rights and reducing its social and economic costs and consequences.

I would like to conclude my speech with the quote from the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who stated that “Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.”

Thank you!

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai’s speech at the International Conference on “Mountains: culture, landscapes and biodiversity”

Mr Huseyn Baghirov, Chairman of Board of Trustees of Western Caspian University,

Professors and students,

Distinguished guests,


It is a great honour for me to be here today at the International Conference dedicated to “Mountains: culture, landscapes and biodiversity”.

I would like to thank the Western Caspian University, especially its Mountain Culture and Landscape Research Institute, and the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, for organizing today’s event.

Allow me to also take this opportunity to congratulate the Government and People of Azerbaijan on the 96th Birth Anniversary of the late national leader, Heydar Aliyev.

Distinguished Guests,

For me the very mentioning of the word “Mountain” reminds me of my native country Afghanistan and brings back some very nostalgic memories of my childhood in Kabul, a city surrounded by mountains.

After leaving the mountains of Hindu Kush in Afghanistan, my affection and association with the mountains did not end as my UN career took me to new heights of the Himalayas in Pakistan, Nepal and Tajikistan, the Jabal Al Shuaib Mountains in Sana, Yemen, the Zagros mountain ranges in Iraqi Kurdistan and now the Caucuses mountains in Azerbaijan.

In addition to their immense ecological, cultural, and socio-economic value, mountains are continuing to play a crucial role in human’s spiritual and mystical well-being as well.

From their mentioning in ancient Greek, Egyptian, Chinese and other mythologies to holy books such as the Bible and the Quran, Mountains have always symbolized power, authority, strength, vitality, energy and life.

Today almost one billion people in the world live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy.

Let me highlight why Mountain should matter to us:

  • Mountains are the world’s ‘water towers’, providing between 60 and 80 percent of all freshwater resources for our planet.
  • Mountains attract 15-20 percent of global tourism and are areas of important cultural diversity, knowledge and heritage.
  • Mountains are a vital source of food and important centres of agricultural biodiversity.
  • Mountains are home to many Indigenous Peoples as many mountain areas host ancient indigenous communities that possess and maintain precious knowledge, traditions and languages.
  • Mountains are home to half of the world’s biodiversity concentration.
  • And most importantly, mountains provide early indicators of climate change.

But despite providing these key goods and services, mountains still remain among the ecosystems least documented and least talked about subject.

Today a combination of increasing global demographic and economic pressure makes our mountains vulnerable.

Mountains are under threat from climate change, land degradation, over exploitation and natural disasters, with potentially far-reaching and devastating consequences, both for mountain communities and the rest of the world.

And as global climate continues to warm, mountain people — some of the world’s hungriest and poorest — face even greater struggles to survive.

Considering the crucial role mountains play in providing key ecosystem goods and services to the planet and their vulnerability in the face of climate change, we need to step up action and raise attention to sustainable protection and development of mountains.

The United Nations system in Azerbaijan is closely working with its local partners – government, civil society, private sector and other international organisations – in the field of environmental protection, which is of the strategic areas in the UN-Azerbaijan Partnership Framework.

UNDP has supported mountain landscape sustainability through various projects, such as “Sustainable Land and Forest Management in the Greater Caucasus mountains landscape” and livelihood opportunities to local communities in the high-mountain villages of Ismayilli and Shamakhi in partnership with ABAD.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is working closely with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to support Azerbaijan in integrating biodiversity and sustainable management of forestry.

Globally, the UN has adopted several instruments and action agendas to protect the fragile ecosystem of mountains.

Agenda 21 which came out of the Earth Summit in 1992 dedicated a whole chapter and programme of action to sustainable mountain development.

During the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 in South Africa, the United Nations established The Mountain Partnership, an international voluntary alliance dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world.

Today, the Mountain Partnership has 343 members, comprising governments, intergovernmental organizations and major groups from civil society, NGOs and the private sector.

In the outcome document of the Future We Want adopted at the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference in 2012, member states of the United Nations not only recognized the benefits derived from mountain regions, as essential for sustainable development but also warned about the vulnerability of fragile mountain ecosystems to the adverse impacts of climate change and the marginalisation of its communities.

In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and more specifically, Goal 15 “Life On Land” called on countries to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems including mountains, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.

All of these instruments and frameworks invite Member States to increase collaboration, involvement and sharing of experience of all relevant stakeholders, adopt a long-term vision, include mountain-specific policies into national sustainable development strategies, and design poverty reduction plans and programmes for communities in mountain areas.

They also encourage active engagement of mountain people in decision-making processes with a specific focus on women’s role to ensure recognition and inclusion of indigenous cultures, traditions and knowledge in development policy and planning.

Therefore, in view of its importance, the organization of this conference by the Western Caspian University in partnership with the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation to discuss for the next two days how to protect this precious gift of nature and examine the role of mountains in shaping our echo system and biodiversity is very commendable and appreciated.

Furthermore, the outcome of this conference will be fundamental to research efforts and to improve understanding of the drivers of change affecting mountain regions.

I wish the event a great success.

Thank you!

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai’s speech at the event dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the vision aid missions by the Japanese Fuji Optical private company to Azerbaijan

Mr Ali Hasanov, Deputy Prime Minister,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure today to speak at the event celebrating 15th anniversary of Fuji vision aid mission to Azerbaijan.

Every year UNHCR’s Office in Azerbaijan facilitates such missions in close cooperation with the Government of Azerbaijan to arrange free of charge eye-screening and eyeglasses distribution for refugees, internally displaced and other vulnerable people by the 2006 Nansen Refugee Award Winner Dr. Akio Kanai.

Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. spent more than 2.8 million USD to accomplish its humanitarian missions to Azerbaijan since 2005.

Around 57 thousand pairs of high-quality optic eyeglasses and other items have been brought to the country as in-kind donation to the UNHCR operations in Azerbaijan.

In total, more than 31 thousand refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable people have benefited from free of charge vision screening services rendered during the missions.

This year, Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. has donated 3,300 pairs of eye-glasses and other vision and hearing aid items to UNHCR and intends to screen about 2,400 internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers during the six-day vision tests and eye-glasses distribution in Yevlakh, Goranboy and Baku.

We appreciate efforts made by the Japanese Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. through its Vision Aid Mission to Azerbaijan, which demonstrate understanding and sympathy towards the displacement challenge faced by Azerbaijan and the work of the UN Refugee Agency.

United Nations and the Government of Azerbaijan have been working in the field of humanitarian assistance since 1992.

UN’s role was crucial in averting a major humanitarian disaster in early years of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. United Nations’ assistance was primarily focused on the immediate needs of refugees and IDPs affected by the conflict.

During this time, UN Agencies provided food, health services, shelter and other non-food items to more than 600,000 IDPs from the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the seven adjacent districts. Assistance also included support to some 200,000 Azerbaijani refugees who were forced to leave Armenia between 1988 and 1992.

UNHCR was one of the first international organisations to bring refugee management expertise, as well as substantial assistance to the country.

The combined efforts of the Government, local communities and the international community were crucial in preventing the most tragic consequences of large-scale displacement, such as mass starvation, epidemics and social unrest.

The humanitarian action is key for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda includes a vision for global solidarity with people in fragile environments, a renewed commitment to resolve or prevent conflict and the recognition of the important role of migrants, internally displaced people, and refugees in achieving development goals.

So, addressing humanitarian needs of vulnerable groups not only a prerequisite of sustainable development but also a necessity if the SDGs are to be achieved.

Central to Goal 17, Partnership for the Goals, is the idea that the SDGs can only be achieved through collective action. From this perspective, the commitment and cooperation of humanitarian actors is imperative to the achievement of the SDGs and focusing efforts on realising the agenda is key to building resilience to and preventing complex emergencies.

Thank you!

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai’s speech at the International Day of Nowruz event

Dear Ambassador Erkan Ozoral,

Dear Abulfas Garayev, the Minister of Culture,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


International Day of Nowruz was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution adopted on 23 February 2010, at the initiative of several countries that share this holiday including Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania, North Macedonia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

For centuries now, Nowruz brings together families, neighbours and communities as a driving force of peace, friendship and good neighbourly relations.

I think we all recognise that today our world needs the spirit of Nowruz, more than anything.

When we see all the conflicts around the world.

When we see the plight of migrants and refugees.

When we see the rise of xenophobia and racism in so many parts of the world.

It is clear that we all need the spirit of Nowruz to plant seeds of peace and justice; to ensure respect to human dignity; to germinate all year round and fill our houses, communities and planet with flowers of prosperity.

I thank the Ambassador of Turkey, his Excellency Erkan Ozoral, for bringing us together to celebrate Nowruz. I am delighted to say to all of you happy Nowruz!

For more than 300 million people, Nowruz is about new beginnings.

The beginning of a new year. The arrival of spring. The renewal of nature.

Nowruz unites communities beyond borders. It promotes peace and solidarity within families and between generations.

It encourages reconciliation and good neighbourliness.

Its values echo those that we together promote at the United Nations every day and everywhere.

The beginning of a new year brings with it a sense of fresh possibilities.

It gives us a chance to renew our commitment to peace, sustainable development and human rights.

It is an opportunity to renew our pledge to human dignity and our promise to leave no one behind.

It is an occasion to strengthen our new resolve to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.

Nowruz reminds us of what we have in common and the richness of our diversity.

I wish all of you a prosperous, happy, healthy and peaceful Nowruz.

And may its spirit of friendship, harmony and respect for nature serve as an inspiration to us all.

Thank you.

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the exhibition devoted to Human Rights Day


Colleagues and friends,

On behalf of the United Nations in Azerbaijan, I would like to welcome you all and thank you for your participation at the Human Rights Exhibition Day which is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the Museum Centre of the Ministry of Culture. Continue reading “UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the exhibition devoted to Human Rights Day”

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the conference devoted to Human Rights Day

>> Conference: “Ensuring human rights equally is a basic ground for peace and sustainable development” <<



Colleagues and friends,

It is my pleasure to participate in the commemoration event of the Human Rights Day and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Continue reading “UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the conference devoted to Human Rights Day”

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at International Volunteer Day event

Ladies and gentlemen,

UN colleagues and fellow delegates,

Who are the first responders after a disaster happens?

Who are behind some of major global movements such ban the landmine, environment, climate change, animal right, civil rights, anti-apartheid, anti-war etc.

Who is the likely person to help a distressed neighbour?

Volunteers! Continue reading “UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at International Volunteer Day event”

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the launch of Gender Assessment Report “Women in private sector in Azerbaijan, Challenges and Opportunities”

Dear Ms. Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs,

H.E. Mr. Philipp Stalder, Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in the Republic of Azerbaijan,

UN colleagues, members of the diplomatic corps,

Representatives of Azerbaijan’s diverse and highly competitive business community,


Khanimlar ve janablar, xosh gorduk! (Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome!) Continue reading “UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the launch of Gender Assessment Report “Women in private sector in Azerbaijan, Challenges and Opportunities””

UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at Baku Forum on Sustainable Development

Mr. Ali Ahmadov [Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Chairman of the National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development],

Ms. Inga Rhonda King [President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)],

Mr. Rashid Khalikov [Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations],

Mr. Shahin Mustafayev [Minister of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan],

Mr. Sahil Babayev [Minister of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan],

Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky [Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS]

Government representatives,

My UN Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Continue reading “UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at Baku Forum on Sustainable Development”

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