MEDIA BRIEFING: Azerbaijan made inactive in Open Government Partnership

Cape Town, South Africa, May 4, 2016 - The Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership today resolved that Azerbaijan will be regretfully designated as inactive in OGP, due to unresolved constraints on the operating environment for Non-Governmental Organizations. Azerbaijan has been participating in OGP since 2011. The decision is the first time that OGP has taken action under its Policy on Upholding the Values and Principles of OGP, known as the Response Policy, adopted in 2014.

The OGP’s 22-member Steering Committee - composed in equal parts of government and civil society representatives - made the decision at its Ministerial-level meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. A vote was taken with 16 members in favour, 3 against and 3 abstaining. The government of Azerbaijan will have a maximum of one year to address the concerns raised by civil society organizations. Azerbaijan will be labelled as inactive, will be ineligible to vote in OGP elections and will only be able to attend OGP events as an observer for learning purposes. It will continue to receive Steering Committee and Support Unit assistance, including from OGP Working Groups, multilateral partners and peer exchange visits.

The response policy was triggered in March 2015 when concerns were raised by three civil society organizations - Publish What You Pay, Civicus and Article 19 - about threats faced by civil society in Azerbaijan. After carrying out an exhaustive review process, the OGP Criteria and Standards subcommittee found that the concerns were valid.

If at any point during the year the Criteria and Standards subcommittee determines that the government of Azerbaijan has sufficiently addressed the original concerns, it may recommend to the full Steering Committee that Azerbaijan be returned to active status.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Background on the OGP Response Policy:

  • The Policy on Upholding the Values and Principles of the Open Government Partnership, known as the Response Policy, was adopted September 25, 2014. It is triggered when the Steering Committee, the chair of the Criteria and Standards Subcommittee or the OGP Support Unit receives a letter of concern regarding a situation of relevance to OGP. The OGP’s Criteria and Standards Subcommittee is then asked to initiate an evaluation of the merits of the concern.  If a concern is found to have merit, a short notice is circulated to the OGP Steering Committee members informing them of the decision. At that point a variety of steps can be undertaken to help address the issues raised in the concern. Should none of the suggested interventions have the desired impact, the Criteria and Standards subcommittee then recommends to the full OGP Steering Committee that the country be made inactive for a period of one year, in order to address the original concerns.

Background on Azerbaijan and the OGP Response Policy:

  1. Response Policy Procedures and Protocol

  2. Background Briefing by Filers: Closing Civic Space in Azerbaijan Actions that Undermine the Values and Principles of the Open Governance Partnership

  3. Joint letter to the OGP to ensure civil society organizations can participate in and influence action plan, 26 March, 2015

Background on Azerbaijan in OGP:

  1. Azerbaijan Country Page, OGP website

Authors: OGP Support Unit
Filed Under: OGP News