The Institute of Human Rights is the newest institute in the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) and it was founded by the decision of the Presidium of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences dated May 26, 1999 basing on the Ordinance of the nationwide leader of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev “On establishment of Scientific-Research Institute of Human Rights” dated November 30, 1998. On June 21, 1999 the Ministry of Justice of the Republic registeredthe Charter of the Institute. The objective of the Institute is to conduct scientific research work on democratization of the society, human rights and fundamental freedoms, to make scientific proposals and to deepen legal knowledge in this area.
The scientific research activities of the Institute are to study civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights guaranteed by the Azerbaijan Constitution, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international norms, and the Institute also focuses on and generalizes international practice and national historical experience in this field.
The Institute co-operates with the Administration of the Azerbaijan President, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Prosecutor General’s Office, Milli Madjlis of the Azerbaijan Repubic (Parliament), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Baku State University, as well as with international organizations – UNO, Council of Europe, NATO, OSCE Officefor Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE ODIHR), relevant scientific-research institutions abroad, governmental organizations and NGOs
For a short period of time the Institute apart from its scientific activity has expanded its international links and has actively participated in scientific, cultural and political life of the country. Thus, in 1999-2011 over 100 seminars, workshops and conferences attended by the leading experts of the Council of Europe, NATO, OSCE, European Union, UNO, and the European parliamentarians have been conducted. The researchers, postgraduate students and dissertation writers of the Institute have developed and published a number of important projects, including: establishment of the Ombudsman Institution in Azerbaijan, reforms in judicial and penitentiary systems, social policy, preparation of legal documents on rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, the disabled, minors, environmental problems, etc.
In the context of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh one of the leading trends in the research work of the Institute is the problem of international terrorism, fight against it with respect for human rights, reporting the truth about Azerbaijan to the world community, in particular, to the international scientific community. In scientific studies published in different languages, at scientific conferences and numerous social events the issue of the Armenian terrorism, as part of transnational organized crime, is always on the agenda, the issue of the Armenianism which has become ethnocorporate and is a real threat to peace, stability, tolerance, good-neighborliness, the system of ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms in the South Caucasus.
For the first time at the initiative of the Institute there has been compiled the fact material on the active participation of Armenians in the mass extermination of Jews during World War II; the flag has been restored – the state attribute of Irevan khanate and confirmation that this land belonged to the Azerbaijan people; the scientific-practical conference has been held dedicated to the transfer of the ancient Azerbaijani town Irevan to the Republic of Armenia as its capital as a compromise in 1918 with the participation of eminent scholars of worldwide reputation; the publications on the destruction of cultural and historical monuments of the Azerbaijani people located on the territories occupied by Armenians have been prepared.
One of the main activities of the Institute is the study of the historical and international experience in the establishment of the Ombudsman Institution (Public Defender), as well as its adaptation in Azerbaijan with due regard to national mentality. With this in mind, the Institute has conducted research work and prepared the basic principles of the establishment of the Ombudsman Institution in Azerbaijan; these principles were published in scientific journals and discussed at conferences and seminars. In early 2001 these principles were presented to the Human Rights Permanent Commission of the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic and as a result of the discussions at a sitting of the Commission they formed the basis of the draft Constitutional Law of the Azerbaijan Republic on the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman).
Taking into account the fact that the legal education of the society is a major factor in the formation and development of a civilized, democratic, and civil society, the Institute has conducted a number of activities on propaganda and public education in protecting and ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms.
At the end of the XX c. the scientific world gave rise to a new direction – bioethics, which is an important growth point of ethical and legal knowledge. The formation and development of bioethics is connected with the process of transformation of traditional ethics in general and medical ethics in particular. This is primarily due to sharply increased attention to human rights (in medicine – these are the rights of the patient, testee, etc.) and the creation of new medical technologies that generate lots of critical issues requiring legal and moral regulation. Its main areas of focus are genetic engineering, surrogacy, cloning, human organs transplantation, gender reassignment surgery, artificial prolongation of lifeand euthanasia.
Since 2010 “Bioethics and Human Rights” Department has been funcitoning at the Institute. The first project in this direction focused on food safety, the prohibition to use genetically modified raw materials in food in order to protect the health of the population. Besides, as part of bioethics the legal regulation of patients’ rights in Azerbaijan and other countries is studied.
In September 2010 on the basis of Bioethics and Health Law Department the Azerbaijan Bureau of UNESCO Office on Bioethics was founded and in December 2010 there was signed the official cooperation agreement between the Institute of Human Rights of ANAS and UNESCO Department on Bioethics in the presence of the President of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. Through this partnership, with the support of UNESCO HQ a cooperation agreement between the Institute and the Baku State University and the Baku branch of Moscow State University on the introduction of Bioethics and Medical Law in the curriculum were also signed.
In addition, the Institute has played one of the leading roles in the organization and successful carrying out of the 18th Session of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee in May-June 2011 in Baku, followed by a training seminar for future teachers of bioethics conducted by UNESCO experts in the Institute of Human Rights.
One of the successful projects of the Institute in bioethics is also the opening of a new TV project “Bioethics” on AzTV state channel in May 2011 which the UNESCO heads found very successful and called the pioneer one in the region.
The Institute jointly with the Azerbaijan Bureau of UNESCO Office on Bioethics has examined a number of bills discussed in the National Parliament on the patients’ rights, palliative care, social services, etc.