Azerbaijan proposes to include Shushi in “The Creative Cities Network”

On November 10, 2021, it was announced that Baku submitted documents to the UNESCO Secretariat with a proposal to include the city of Shushi in the Creative Cities Network. This was stated by the media center of the Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan and added that at the moment the network includes 246 cities from almost 90 countries.

Actually, this is not the first attempt of Azerbaijan to enter the list of creative cities of UNESCO: in November Lankaran city has been added to the Creative Cities Network in the direction of "gastronomy", Baku - in 2019, in the direction of "design", Sheki - in 2017, as a city of “masters and arts”.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The Creative Cities Network project brings together cities around the world in the fields of music, arts, crafts, design, cinematography, literature, gastronomy, and media art.

Our response

The attempt to present Shushi as a creative city of the Azerbaijani people violates the right of the Armenians and the Armenian community of the city of Shushi in particular, which it was deprived of by force through deportation and the ban on living a creative and cultural life. Rights related to cultural heritage form an inseparable part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Faro Convention “Cultural Heritage for Society”, article 1), according to which everyone, personally or collectively, has the right to enjoy enrich and make a contribution to the cultural heritage, and undertakes to respect the cultural heritage of others as their own (Faro Convention, art. 4).

In this context, it becomes clear that Azerbaijan, destroying, appropriating the cultural heritage of the entire community, depriving it of its identity, the right to life and creativity, is now trying to strengthen its methods of appropriation at the international level, violating the cultural fundamental rights of the Armenian society under Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The announcement of the historic city of Shushi as a creative city of Azerbaijani society, which is also the most important cultural center of Armenians, clearly violates the historicism of the city, the basic principles of its authenticity and integrity, contained in the Nara document, adopted in 1994 in Japan, as well as in the document, adopted in 2017 in New Delhi.

In cases where cultural values appear to be in conflict, respect for cultural diversity demands acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the cultural values of all parties.