ARTICLE 19 joined other civil society organizations in a joint letter to the Open Government Partnership to request action in relation to Azerbaijan under the Policy on Upholding the Values and Principles of OGP, as articulated in the Open Government Declaration (OGP response policy), which was adopted on 25 September 2014. The aims of the OGP response policy are “to help re-establish an environment for government and civil society collaboration” and to “[s]afeguard the Open Government Declaration and mitigate reputational risks to OGP”. We believe that the situation in Azerbaijan engages both of these aims.
Over the last few years, the climate for civil society in Azerbaijan has deteriorated to the point where it seriously threatens the ability of civil society organizations (CSOs) to engage effectively in the OGP process. The situation thus raises important concerns about the Azeri government’s commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Open Government Declaration, which it endorsed in 2011 when it joined the OGP. These include a commitment to “protecting the ability of not-for-profit and civil society organizations to operate in ways consistent with our commitment to freedom of expression, association, and opinion.” Unfortunately, the actions of the Azeri government have signally failed to translate this commitment into practice.