What does Azerbaijan's exclusion from the Open Government Partnership mean?
Azerbaijan excluded from the OGP
Azerbaijan has been excluded from the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The organization’s statement regarding this decision noted that Azerbaijan had not met the conditions for membership: “We were deeply disappointed that Azerbaijan was unable to meet the conditions for being in the Partnership and that the conditions for civil society remained difficult.”
Although human rights activists believe that the exclusion of Azerbaijan from the organization damages the country’s reputation, the deputy close to the government is sure that “there is no benefit in remaining in international organizations that take an anti-Azerbaijani position.”
- Switzerland refuses to recognize passports issued by Russia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia
- “Azerbaijan’s urban infrastructure is not adapted for the disabled”
- “The result for Armenia – they made some noise and vice versa.” View from Baku on the results of the meeting of the UN Security Council
“Azerbaijan’s activities have been frozen since 2016”
On August 17, the Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) made a decision on the final withdrawal of Azerbaijan from the organization.
Azerbaijan’s activities under the Open Government Partnership, which it joined in 2011, were frozen seven years ago. This was prompted by a letter of concern sent to the Partnership from representatives of civil society and non-governmental organizations in Azerbaijan in 2015.
A statement released by the OGP regarding its latest decision said that after a thorough investigation, these concerns were found to be well founded, and as a result of this process, the steering committee decided to temporarily suspend Azerbaijan’s activities in 2016.
Later, the “frozen” status of Azerbaijan was extended several times and a number of milestones were noted that the Azerbaijani government should achieve, and it was also emphasized that failure to meet these milestones would lead to a permanent suspension of Azerbaijan’s participation in the Open Government Partnership.
“Azerbaijan failed to fulfill the conditions of being in the Partnership”
In a statement released by the OGP regarding its latest decision regarding Azerbaijan, it said that an assessment conducted by the Independent Accountability Mechanism in May 2023 found that the government had not implemented the recommendations of the organization and implemented the terms of the 2018 resolution.
“In this regard, the steering committee of the Open Government Partnership unanimously decided to permanently suspend and annul Azerbaijan’s membership in the Partnership. In order to regain membership, Azerbaijan must first meet the association’s eligibility criteria, including passing a value test and gaining approval from the Open Government Partnership’s steering committee.
We have been deeply disappointed that Azerbaijan has not been able to meet the conditions for being a member of the Partnership and that the conditions for civil society have remained difficult. Although Azerbaijan is no longer a member of the Partnership, we are ready to support reformers in government and civil society who are trying to promote the principles of open government,” said Sanjay Pradhan, Executive Director of the Open Government Partnership.
The Open Government Partnership, founded in 2011, is a global alliance of 75 countries and 104 local governments working with thousands of civil society organizations to build more transparent, inclusive and accountable governments.
“The problem here was transparency”
Prior to that, in 2017, Azerbaijan’s membership in the Mining Transparency Initiative was suspended.
The organization has given Azerbaijan a delay on a number of reforms, says Mirvari Gahramanli, a human rights activist and chairman of the Oil Workers’ Rights Organization. According to her, during this period the situation worsened:
“For several years, conditions were set related to civil society, legislation and democratic reforms, and the government was given a delay in fulfilling these conditions. Now they noticed that there was no civil society left, or anything else. There is not a single institution or coalition left in the country.
There used to be coalitions related to elections, mining and other areas, they worked together. Now all this is gone. On the other hand, the media has reached a deplorable state. In fact, the more Azerbaijan would have membership in various international organizations, it would be the better,” the human rights activist told Abzas Media.
“This negatively affects the image of the country”
Mirvari Gahramanli believes that after the closure of most of the normal organizations in Azerbaijan, the remaining communities took refuge in the shadow of the State Support Agency for Non-Governmental Organizations.
“Agency writes, organizations repeat. The problem here was transparency. When the Open Government coalition was just formed, there were events where both government representatives and civil society representatives participated, sat together and discussed. This did not benefit the government. Because there were discussions about corruption too.
Now there are Public Councils at state institutions, they meet once a month and issue certificates, they say, thank you, you praised us well.
Now, having left this organization, Azerbaijan has shown that state institutions are not transparent. This negatively affects the image of the country.”
“These organizations are conducting anti-Azerbaijani propaganda”
Milli Mejlis deputy Takhir Rzayev says that the exclusion of Azerbaijan from certain international organizations, which never fully reflect the realities of Azerbaijan, is a small problem.
“They call themselves an ‘international organization’ but carry out anti-Azerbaijani propaganda. It goes without saying that Azerbaijan also expresses its attitude towards these organizations, and in response they perform certain provocative actions.
Today there is freedom of speech and press in Azerbaijan, everything is transparent. If this international organization has fallen under the influence of foreign, pro-Armenian forces, then we have nothing to do there. I think that there are other organizations that Azerbaijan should withdraw from. If our realities are not reflected there, if it works against Azerbaijan, there is no point in staying there.”
According to the MP, exclusion from such organizations cannot negatively affect the reputation of Azerbaijan:
“The biggest organization is the UN, and they have not been able to implement their decisions regarding Armenia for more than 26 years. At the UN meeting on August 16, a number of countries of the world supported the correct position of Azerbaijan, which indicates that the authority of Azerbaijan in the international world is growing day by day. Therefore, our exclusion from the Open Government Partnership cannot harm our international reputation.”