The Republic of Azerbaijan became a member of UNESCO on 03 June 1992. Two years later, on 21 February 1994, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev decreed the establishment of National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for UNESCO. Azerbaijan and UNESCO have since enjoyed fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation during these years of bilateral relations.
Azerbaijan has signed and ratified almost all the conventions and other legal instruments of UNESCO and was elected as a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO for the period of 2005-2009. Currently, Azerbaijan is amember of four intergovernmental committees and councils of the Organization.
UNESCO Directors-General Mr. Federico Mayor, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura and Mrs. Irina Bokova have visited Azerbaijan several times during these 25 years of cooperation; and President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva attended the Leaders’ Forum of the 38th Session of UNESCO General Conference in November 2015. The above is clear evidence of the high-level relations enjoyed between UNESCO and Azerbaijan.
The role of the First Vice-president of Azerbaijan, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva in enhancing the relationship between Azerbaijan and UNESCO is indispensable. In September 2004, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva was designated as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Oral and Musical Traditions in recognition of her action to promote traditional music, literature and poetry, her role in the promotion of musical education and international cultural exchanges, and her dedication to the Organization’s ideals. Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva organized a wide range of activities both at national and international levels which have aimed to promote UNESCO’s values. This contributed to a widening of cooperation between Azerbaijan and UNESCO. In recognition of her contributions to the preservation of cultural heritage, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded with the Commemorative Medal by UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura (2008) and with the Golden Mozart Medal by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova (2010).
Historical monuments of Azerbaijan such as the Walled City of Baku with Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower and Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Another landmark event which has strengthened this relationship was the signing of the Framework Agreement on cooperation between Azerbaijan and UNESCO in the fields of education, science, culture and communication on 18 July 2013, which allowed Azerbaijan to become one of the donors of UNESCO. In accordance with the Agreement, Azerbaijan provided a financial contribution of 5 million USD to the Organization for supporting its global mission in the areas such as: girls’ education, protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, gender equality, intercultural dialogue, prevention of natural disasters etc.
Currently, projects on girls’ education in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya) and intangible cultural heritage in Asia and Latin America (Bangladesh and Guatemala), as well as projects on intercultural dialogue and science are funded by Azerbaijan through a special trust fund.
Azerbaijan has also hosted a number of important UNESCO events, including the 18th session of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO (2011), the extraordinary session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport, and the 8th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2013). In addition, UNESCO has been an official partner of the four World Forums on Intercultural Dialogue held biennially since 2011 in Azerbaijan. Within these Forums, Azerbaijan also hosted two Academic Forums of UNESCO Chairs on intercultural and interreligious dialogue in 2015 and 2017.
Anniversaries of historic events and great personalities of Azerbaijan are celebrated at the UNESCO Headquarters almost every year. The 500th anniversary of the birth of Mahammad Fuzuli and the 1300th anniversary of the Azerbaijani epic story epos “Kitabi-Dede Gorgud” (Book of Dede Gorgud) were among them.
During these 25 years of cooperation, Azerbaijani mugham singer Alim Gasimov was awarded with the UNESCO Music Prize by the International Music Council, artist Tahir Salahov received the UNESCO’s Gold medal of “Picasso” for his contributions to the world cultural heritage and composer Firanghiz Alizadeh was designated as UNESCO Artist for Peace.
Global website: www.unesco.org