No Progress on Key Reforms: Transparency Group Should Suspend Azerbaijan’s Membership
Civil Rights Defenders and a coalition of 20 leading civil society organisations calls on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a prominent international coalition, to suspend Azerbaijan’s membership for failing to carry out key reforms. The EITI Board meeting is due to take place in Bogota on the 8 and 9 of March in order to review the country’s efforts to reduce oppression against civil society groups.
At its most recent board meeting, in October 2016, the EITI gave Azerbaijan four months to eliminate legal and bureaucratic obstacles inhibiting civil society engagement in the initiative. It required Azerbaijan to simplify procedures for registration of nongovernmental organisations and for the receipt and registration of grants from foreign donors. The reforms would eliminate some mechanisms for the government to interfere with and stop the work of independent groups. The EITI had downgraded Azerbaijan from a full member to candidate status in April 2015, due to the government’s interference with independent civil society.
In a joint letter signed by 22 human rights groups worldwide and sent to EITI board members on February 10, 2017, they assessed the Azerbaijan government’s lack of progress on the reforms identified by the EITI and called on the board to suspend Azerbaijan To date, the government of Azerbaijan has not implemented the board’s recommendations and continues to demonstrate serious disregard for the principles on civil society engagement enshrined in the EITI Standard and the Civil Society Protocol. For these reasons, Azerbaijan is not compliant with the EITI Standard on civil society engagement, and the signatories urge Azerbaijan’s suspension.
EITI brings together governments, companies, and nongovernmental groups to encourage better governance of resource-rich countries by fostering open public debate about the use of oil, gas, and mining revenues. The EITI requires member governments to foster “an enabling environment for civil society” and to “refrain from actions which result in narrowing or restricting public debate in relation to implementation of the EITI.
To view the joint letter to the EITI dated 10 February, please click here.