Social integration/cohesion is one of the issues of current cultural policy in the Republic of Azerbaijan. There is a generally accepted approach that when developing policies or programmes by national, regional or local authorities, as a rule, culture and art are considered as tools to enhance social integration and cohesion of certain groups of the population. Government bodies must engage closely with civil society institutions and private actors when implementing such programmes and action plans. In particular, in the action plans of state programmes aimed at supporting specific groups (refugees, disadvantaged groups, the elderly and the unemployed, etc.), there is always a place for many measures to involve them in a full-fledged cultural life. For this reason, at present, the Ministry for Culture, or its subordinate organisations and institutions, are implementing several national programmes that are not directly under its supervision. Further, there are specific examples of such programmes and activities implemented for social integration and cohesion in this section.
For instance, the State Programme on Solving the Problems of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (№ 895 of September 17, 1998) also prescribes regular cultural activities among refugees and IDPs. Furthermore, the “State Programme on Improving Living Conditions and Increasing Employment of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons” (№ 298 of July 1, 2004) instructs the Ministry for Culture to carry out work on restoration and reconstruction of unfinished history, cultural institutions and monuments in the settlements liberated from occupation and damaged during the war.
The State Programme on Strengthening Social Protection of Elderly Citizens (№ 1413 of April 17, 2006) envisages ensuring the rights of senior citizens in social protection; protecting the health of the older generation; and strengthening the scientific basis of social security of senior citizens. In addition, however, ensuring the participation of senior citizens in the socio-economic and political life and implementing measures to meet their socio-cultural needs are also among crucial goals and objectives of the Programme. An example under this type of programme is the establishment of clubs for the elderly, amateur and interest groups in the cultural centres of the Republic.
Activities in the field of culture are also reflected in state programmes dedicated to preventing negative factors and dangerous phenomena. The “State Programme on Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Their Precursors and Drug Addiction for 2019-2024” (№ 1334 of July 22, 2019 ). Among the activities prescribed by the programme are the:
- Organisation of intellectual competitions to address illicit trafficking in drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors to form an anti-drug worldview of pupils and students;
- Theatrical performances, feature, documentary and animated films on the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the harm caused by drug addiction;
- Activities organising the leisure time of teenagers and youth in cities and regions.
The “National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2020-2024” (№ 2173 of July 22, 2020) envisages:
- Taking appropriate measures in administrative, educational, social, cultural and other spheres to create an environment of public intolerance in society in connection with the cases of human trafficking and forced labour crimes and to involve civil society institutions and mass media in this work
- Strengthening advocacy and awareness-raising in the fight against human trafficking, making various social advertisements, videos, short films, preparing and showing programmes, preparing multiple educational materials, posting Internet information resources and promoting their use;
- Applying the practice of evaluating the results of all awareness-raising activities and training on human trafficking by organizers and participants.
The National Action Plan for the Protection of Human Rights in the Republic of Azerbaijan (№ 1880 of December 28, 2006) and the National Action Programme to increase the effectiveness of the protection of human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan (№ 1938 of December 27, 2011) pay special attention to such cultural issues as:
- Preservation and further development of the cultural heritage of ethnic minorities;
- Holding human rights olympiads, competitions, art exhibitions, festivals and other events on the application of human rights for school children and students;
- Carrying out enlightenment actions for the development of thinking and culture of the population, and the inadmissibility of discrimination, the promotion of peace and tolerance and national and spiritual values of our people;
- Development of human rights sections in libraries;
- Round tables, seminars, conferences, etc., on the prevention of crimes that pose a significant threat to human rights and freedoms.