On March 03, 2023, the Chairman of the Board of the Institute of Law and Human Rights, Mahammad Guluzade, took part in a public discussion held in the Human Rights Committee of the Milli Majlis (National Assembly) and dedicated to the topic of peaceful and legal repatriation to Western Azerbaijan.
M. Guluzade, considering the repatriation to Western Azerbaijan in the context of human rights and international law, shared the following conclusions:
1. International law recognizes the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their native land and places of origin and regain the property rights;
2. International courts confirm in their decisions the property rights of refugees and internally displaced persons;
3. The UN General Assembly and the Security Council, in their statements, recognize and confirm the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homeland and to their property;
4. The Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons (The Pinheiro Principles), adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 2005, notes that the international community should promote and protect the right to housing, land and property restitution, as well as the right to voluntary return in safety and dignity (Principle 22).
In confirmation of these points, Mr. Guluzade gave the following examples:
A. The UN adopted dozens of documents on restitution and created mechanisms (for instance, adopted 3 Resolutions only on the right of Palestinians to restitution);
B. The Commission for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees assisting more than 440,000 refugees and more than 570,000 internally displaced persons was established under the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina;
C. In the same year, the UN Commission on Human Rights recognized the restitution of land, house and property as a human right in international law. The UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment 31 clearly states that restitution is a possible remedy for violations of rights contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
D. The UN Human Rights Committee General Comment 27 notes that the term “own country” is broader than the term “country of nationality”.
Taking into account the above mentioned, the Head of the Institute put forward the following proposals:
1. To conduct a detailed study of International law and its existing practice in use;
2. To encourage and demand the adoption of an appropriate document on restitution and the establishment of mechanism by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council;
3. To support a revision of the status of Western Azerbaijanis and the recognition of these citizens as “persons with a status equal to refugees”.
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