Skip Navigation

Azerbaijan Special Report 2020-2022

The drafting of Azerbaijan’s 2020–2022 Action Plan started in 2019 with the development of the roadmap. The process included a number of meetings and consultations with the wider civil society outside of the OGP National Platform. The civil society formed a working group, prepared comprehensive recommendations on improving CSO legislation, and proposed the legislative amendments package to GoA. Wider civil society considered the commitments on improving the operating environment for civil society as the most important part of the OGP action plan. The draft proposal prepared by the civil society working group addressed all of the major legislative restrictions and policy changes recommended by OGP in 2017. GoA included two commitments aimed at improvement of the CSO environment in the action plan. However, the commitments were broadly formulated and did not incorporate specific proposals on legislative changes as proposed by the civil society.

Out of seven recommendations issued by the C&S Subcommittee of OGP, only one (recommendation 1.1) has been partially addressed. The change has been the launching of the electronic portal for CSOs that allows the electronic submission of registration documents (including amendments to these documents). At the time of writing this report, this electronic program is still in the testing phase and can only be used by CSOs that are previously registered.[1] Besides the creation of the online registration tool, status quo of other issues subject to recommendations under simplification of registration process for CSOs has not changed. There continues to be an overly broad legal requirement for CSOs to re-register (obtain an extract) when they make changes to their charter and other founding documents (recommendation 1.2). In terms of the Code of Administrative Offences, this code has not been revised to reduce the number of penalties for CSOs (recommendation 1.3).

Legislation sets different rules for the state registration of commercial and non-commercial organizations, and the procedure for non-commercial entities is substantially longer. In practice, the process of CSO registration remains non-transparent, highly selective, and unpredictable. Requests by MoJ for additional documentation happen not once—as foreseen by the law—but multiple times and the process often results in de facto refusal of registration. Civil society activists who were not given registration note that often the ministry does not provide a formal refusal but keeps the case pending without providing justification for months, or years. Independent CSOs are operating as initiative groups without the status of a legal entity which limits their opportunity to receive grants, establish offices and recruit staff. As a result, civil society activists often work based on individual service contracts with foreign donors, which are also registered with the Ministry of Justice.

Recommendations on simplification of regulations to access funding (recommendations 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4) have not been addressed. Cumbersome regulations governing foreign grant registration remain in force and continue to significantly restrict access to foreign funding. There have been no changes to the regulations on the obligation for foreign donors to obtain the right to provide grants (recommendation 2.2). The grant-awarding and grant-receiving organizations are required to register the grant contracts and to declare all donations with MoJ within 15 days. Any changes in the grant agreements and any subsequent agreements require registration with MoJ. Regulations requiring foreign donors having to seek an agreement from the MoJ and having a representative office registered in Azerbaijan remain in force (recommendation 2.2). According to sources interviewed for this report, registration requirements give MoJ broad discretion that enables a selective approach. When organizations apply for registration of foreign grant contracts with all required documentation, they are often not granted registration and are not provided with any explanation. Since 2018, the legislation has not changed, although MoJ has registered several foreign grants.[2] However, according to some civil society representatives interviewed for this report, the CSOs that are already funded by governmental grants, or who have support letters from government representatives, can register grant contracts within a few days, while others lacking the support of GoA are often unable to register grant contracts in time, or at all.

Recommendation 2.3, which addressed the obligation to obtain an opinion on “financial and economic feasibility” in order to issue or receive a foreign grant, is no longer considered to be a challenge in practice. While the requirement remains in force, CSOs were trained on preparing the documentation, and, in practice, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has been issuing these opinions without delays or complications.

There has been no progress on simplification of financial operations for CSOs (recommendation 2.4). CSOs are asked by private banks to provide notification from MoJ for each installment to be transferred based on the grant contract. There are cases of registered organizations with registered grants whose bank accounts remain frozen.


[1] The IRM received this information from CSOs at a discussion of the IRM Republic of Azerbaijan Special Report on 12 April 2023.

[2] European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) Stichting and MG Consulting LLC, CSO Meter: Assessing the civil society environment in the Eastern Partnership countries: Azerbaijan Country Update, ECNL Stichting and MG Consulting LLC, 2020, 9,


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open Government Partnership