The pearl of Azerbaijan's architecture and culture, Icherisheher or the Old City of Baku, was awarded UNESCO's status of enhanced protection.
The Baku Acropolis, Old City, Inner City; all these are the names for Icherisheher, a unique historical monument located right in the center of Baku. This amazing architectural legacy, including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, was the first location in Azerbaijan classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2000.
The request of conferring the status of enhanced protection to the Old City was confirmed at the eighth session of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which was held in Paris on December 18-19.
The request for granting the status of enhanced protection to Icherisheher, Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower was first submitted to the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict by the Administration of State Historical-Architectural Reserve Icherisheher in 2010.
Enhanced protection is one of the features of the 1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The granting of such protection by the Committee can be made under three conditions: first, the cultural object will have the greatest importance to humanity; second, it will be protected by adequate domestic legal and administrative measures recognizing its exceptional cultural and historic value and ensuring the highest level of protection; third, it will not be used for military purposes or to shield military objects.
This status goes beyond the regime of general protection and means that States cannot fall back on the argument of imperative military necessity for using or targeting cultural objects in times of conflict. It also involves the obligation by States to make intentional attacks against identified objects a criminal offence or to penalize use of such objects or their immediate surroundings in support of military action.
This high grade given to the protection of Icherisheher at the international level, is another result of a successful public policy of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in the protection of national cultural heritage, as well as the great role of Azerbaijan's first lady, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO and President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva.
Moreover, during the session, Azerbaijan has been elected Vice President of the UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Belgium was elected as the President of the Committee, while Azerbaijan, Egypt, Cambodia and Mali were elected as Vice Presidents, and Salvador as rapporteur.
Azerbaijan election as the bureau's member for the second time shows the country's authority and activeness. The re-election of Azerbaijan to the bureau will allow defining the agenda of the next meeting, taking into account Azerbaijan's national interests and discussing the issue of protection of cultural property in the territories occupied by Armenia.
Earlier, Azerbaijan won the prestigious international Italian Heritage Award for the preservation and the restoration of the Old City of Baku, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, and the Maiden Tower, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sometimes Icherisheher is referred to as a fortress, because its area is fully surrounded with a well-preserved vallum. Icherisheher and its defensive fortresses are symbols of patriotism and a great source of national pride and dignity for the Azerbaijanis.
The Old City has undergone many significant restoration works under the attention of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and has been completely renewed.
UNESCO has just granted to Walled city of Baku (Icherisheher) and archeological site of Gobustan enhanced protection status at the eighth meeting of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Azerbaijan sent a relevant questionnaire to the Committee in 2011.