On 1 August 2016, 23 independent representatives of independent civil society groups addressed the letter to the government and NGOs and initiated the establishment of the Open Government Partnership Platform in Azerbaijan. The appeal says that:
We undersigned the appeal, representatives of independent civil society organizations with broad participation of the civil society representatives in support of Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Azerbaijan declare the necessity of accelerating the process of forming the Open Government Partnership Platform (OGPP).
Azerbaijan was one of the first countries to join and sign the Declaration of OGP initiative founded in 2011. More than 70 countries who signed the Declaration have expressed their willingness and commitment to set up an open and effective system that conclusively combats corruption, expands citizen’s participation and ownership for responsible and transparent administration.
The main responsibilities of governments joining OGP initiative is public accessibility of governance related information, expansion of public participation in governance, implementation of higher professional ethics in public administration, and introduction of new generation technologies for accountable and transparent governance.
One of the most important principles of Open Government Partnership is also government and civil society cooperation.
A year after the establishment of the OGP the Azerbaijani government has adopted several important documents such as "Action Plan on promotion of Open Government for 2012-2015," and "National Action Plan on combatting against corruption for 2012-2015" for improving the activities related to the promotion of an open government and increasing the transparency. In 2016, another important document - " National Action Plan on promotion of OGP for 2016-2018” has been adopted.
Alas, independent civil structures carrying the role of social control function have not only been involved in the process of preparation and implementation of such an important document, but also their activities have been severely restricted. All this, of course, have caused the deterioration of the status of Azerbaijan at OGP. Resultantly, on May 4, 2016, the Steering Committee of OGP has downgraded Azerbaijan’s membership status for one year from active membership to inactive.
This decision has been justified by legal and practical restrictions imposed on the activities of civil society structures in Azerbaijan. The OGP Steering Committee has stated that restricted space for self-realization of civil society structures has damaged the OGP principles and values.
Currently, the government has less than a year to fulfill all the obligations posed by OGP. It is noteworthy to mention that the government has declared its support regarding the establishment and functioning of civil society platform for OGP at its " National Action Plan on promotion of Open Government for the years of 2016-2018". Further efforts of the government should be directed towards the elimination of all restrictions imposed on civil society structures and the establishment of dialogue and consultation mechanisms with independent civil society, because, it is impossible to achieve any progress on OGP membership without the formation of favorable operating environment for the independent civil society structures.
In regard to the above said, our main goal in signing this document is to accelerate the process of forming the Open Government Partnership Platform which is necessary for Open Government Partnership, to assist the restoration of Azerbaijan's full membership status at the Open Government Partnership, to support the dissemination of OGP principles in Azerbaijan among wider audience. The conclusive result is to contribute to the dialogue process between the government and independent civil society on transparency and participation as well as the establishment of constructive mechanisms supporting civil society initiatives.
We, undersigned, the independent civil society agencies and civil society activists hereby declare our interest to participate in the formation of Open Society Partnership Platform and urge the government to accelerate the process of setting and running an open and transparent process while also involving all interested parties in the formation of the Platform.