Washington, D.C., 17 August 2023 – The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee has resolved to permanently suspend the Republic of Azerbaijan from OGP – a global partnership of 75 countries and 104 local governments working with thousands of civil society organizations to build more open, inclusive, and accountable governments. Azerbaijan will no longer be considered an OGP participating country.
Azerbaijan joined OGP in 2011 and has delivered three action plans with commitments in areas such as public services, open data, and fiscal transparency among others.
However, in 2015, civil society organizations issued a letter of concern to OGP alleging restrictions to civic space and civil society operations “to the point where it seriously threatens the ability of civil society organizations to engage effectively in the OGP process.” Through an exhaustive review, the concerns were found to have merit, and following this process, the Steering Committee resolved to temporarily suspend Azerbaijan in 2016.
In June 2017, the Steering Committee resolved to extend the ‘suspended’ status of Azerbaijan for one year given that the core issues that were raised in the 2015 Response Policy letter of concern, and recommendations made by the Steering Committee, remained unaddressed at the time. The following year, in December 2018, the Steering Committee noted that while there had been sporadic improvements in the operating environment of civil society in the preceding 12 months, the government of Azerbaijan had not made systematic changes or reforms that would thoroughly address the recommendations that were made. The Steering Committee resolved to extend Azerbaijan’s suspended status for a full action plan cycle and outlined a set of milestones for the government of Azerbaijan to achieve, stipulating that failure to adhere to those milestones would automatically result in the finalization of the Response Policy review, making Azerbaijan’s suspension from OGP permanent.
An assessment from OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism in May 2023 shows that the government failed to follow the recommendations set out by OGP and meet the terms of the 2018 resolution. Consequently, the OGP Steering Committee unanimously agreed to permanently suspend and rescind Azerbaijan’s membership in the Partnership. To regain its membership status, Azerbaijan must first meet OGP’s Eligibility Criteria, including passing the Values Check, and receive approval by the OGP Steering Committee.
“We are deeply disappointed to see that Azerbaijan was unable to meet the terms to remain in Partnership and that conditions for civil society continue to be challenging. Even as Azerbaijan is no longer a member of the Partnership, we stand ready to support reformers in government and civil society committed to advancing open government principles,” said Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Government Partnership. “I encourage these reformers to continue engaging with OGP through peer exchange and learning opportunities to eventually help the country meet the requirements to join the Partnership again”.
In 2011, government leaders and civil society advocates came together to create a unique partnership—one that combines these powerful forces to promote accountable, responsive and inclusive governance.
Seventy-five countries and a growing number of local governments—representing more than two billion people—along with thousands of civil society organizations, are members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
August 22, 2023 at 11:35