AZERBAIJAN-COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Committee of Ministers
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which is the statutory decision making body of the organization, is comprised of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of member States. It is considered to be the guardian of the Council of Europe's fundamental values, such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and it monitors member states' compliance with their undertakings. The Committee meets at Ministerial level once a year May to review political issues and give necessary political impetus to the activities of the organization. The Committee meets also at Deputies' level in Strasbourg on a weekly basis. These meetings of the Deputies', as well as its various rapporteur and working groups, conduct most of the business of the Committee of Ministers, where Permanent Representations based in Strasbourg consider certain issues in depth before decisions are taken. The Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers is transferred each six months, in May and November, from one member State to the next in English alphabetical order.
Azerbaijan has been actively using this governmental platform of interaction for raising issues of concern and discussing various national approaches to European problems on an equal footing with other member States. The Committee is being systematically informed about developments in Azerbaijan, more specifically on wide range of consistent measures undertaken in protection and promotion of human rights, consolidating democracy and strengthening the rule of law. Representatives of different government institutions and state agencies of Azerbaijan have also been taking active part in the work of intergovernmental committees and subordinate bodies which have been set up by and work under the authority of the Committee of Ministers (around 30 such bodies are currently operational). The Republic of Azerbaijan, for the first time since becoming the member of the organization, chaired the Committee of Ministers from May to November 2014 (see Chairmanship of Azerbaijan to the Committee of Ministers).
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - PACE
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) brings together 324 men and women from the parliaments of the Council of Europe's 47 member states. Though it contains many voices, reflecting political opinion across the continent, its mission is to uphold the shared values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law that are the "common heritage" of the peoples of Europe.
Azerbaijan is represented in PACE by the delegation of twelve parliamentarians, six of them being representatives and the other six being substitutes. The head of the Azerbaijani delegation is Mr. Samad Seyidov, who is the Chairman of the Committee on International Relations and Inter-Parliamentary Relations of Milli Majlis (Parliament) of Azerbaijan. Members of the Azerbaijani delegation actively participate in the work of PACE committees, as well as in plenary sessions, through preparing reports and contributing to discussions.The Azerbaijani delegation is interested in establishing relations with PACE based on constructive cooperation and mutual respect.
Pursuant to Resolution 1115 (1997),PACE mandated its Monitoring Committee to verify the fulfillment of the obligations assumed by the member states under the terms of the Council of Europe Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights and all other Council of Europe conventions to which they are parties, as well as the honouring of the commitments entered into by the authorities of member states upon their accession to the Council of Europe. Currently eleven states (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine) are under full monitoring procedure. This involves regular visits by a pair of rapporteurs, who conduct an ongoing dialogue with authorities, and occasional plenary debates to ensure that a State's progress and problems are honestly assessed. In this regard, the Monitoring Committee’s co-rapporteurs regularly visit Azerbaijan in order to review the progress of implementation of the commitments taken by Azerbaijan. During these visits, the co-rapporteurs hold meetings in different state bodies and exchange views on the commitments undertaken by Azerbaijan before the Council of Europe.
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is an institution of the Council of Europe, responsible for strengthening local and regional democracy in its 47 member states and assessing the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. As the voice of Europe’s municipalities and regions, it works to foster consultation and political dialogue between national governments and local and regional authorities, through cooperation with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
The Congress is made up of two chambers: the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. It has 324 representatives and 324 substitutes, all appointed for four years, representing over 150,000 local and regional authorities in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. The Congress’s work is organised with three committees: a Monitoring Committee, a Governance Committee and a Current Affairs Committee.
Since its accession to the Council of Europe, the Republic of Azerbaijan has been closely cooperating with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. This cooperation encompasses wide range of issues related to development and strengthening of local and regional democracy.
The Congress adopted Resolution 151(2003) and Recommendation 126 (2003), as well as Resolution 345(2012) and Recommendation 326 (2012) on the situation of local and regional democracy in Azerbaijan respectively during its plenary held in May 2003 and in October 2012. These documents were adopted following the reports prepared on the monitoring of local and regional democracy in Azerbaijan.
The Congress periodically observes local and regional elections, especially in Council of Europe member states. Observation activities cover both polling and election campaigns. The Congress has several times held election observation missions during the municipal elections in Azerbaijan.
Members (representatives and substitutes) of the national delegations to the Congress are appointed for a four-year term in accordance with each individual member state's own procedure. Within national delegations, members are divided between the Congress' two chambers. Azerbaijan is represented in the Congress by a delegation of 6 representatives and 6 substitutes.
European Court on Human Rights
Since 15 April 2002 the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which is the most important legal instrument of the Council of Europe in the sphere of protection of human rights.
Above-mentioned convention contains the fundamental rights and freedoms which are inherent in every human and establishes the European Court on Human Rights which is legal mechanism for protection of conventional rights and freedoms. Jurisdiction of the Court is in force in respect of Azerbaijan since 15 April 2002. The Court and its activities are of great importance for Azerbaijan. The case-law of the Court has the positive impact for the improvement of domestic legislation and ensures the implementation of European law standards into national legislation. Currently, 47 judges from each of Council of Europe member states, including from Azerbaijan are presented in the Court.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
The Government of Azerbaijan has been pursuing constructive dialogue with the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, which was established by 1999 resolution of the Committee of Ministers as a non-judicial institution to promote education in, awareness of and respect for human rights, embodied in the human rights instruments of the Council of Europe. Currently the position of the Commissioner is held by Ms. Dunja Mijatović who took up her position on 1 April 2018. In accordance with its mandate, the Commissioner regularly conducts visits to the member States and subsequently publishes reports of the visits containing conclusions and recommendations. Last visit by the Commissioner to Azerbaijan took place in July 2019 which enabled D. Mijatović to have open and detailed discussions with the respective authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan on human rights developments in the country. During the meetings with the authorities the Commissioner received an extensive update on consistent and comprehensive measures undertaken by the Government in the field of protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of the law in Azerbaijan. The report of the visit to Azerbaijan was published together with the comments of the Azerbaijani authorities in December 2019.
Azerbaijan’s path towards the membership in the Council of Europe
As a full-fledged member of the Council of Europe since 25 January 2001, Azerbaijan has been contributing to multilateral diplomacy within the Council of Europe throughout its 20 year membership to the organization. The history of relations between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe dates back to 1992. On 24 January 1992, the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan applied to the Council of Europe for the status of "special guest". In February 1995, the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) initiated consideration of Azerbaijan's application for "special guest" status in accordance with Recommendation 1247 (1994), which provided for the right of three South Caucasus states to apply for membership in the Council of Europe.
Azerbaijan was accepted as a member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) at its meeting held on 17-18 March 1996.
On 28 June 1996, the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan obtained special guest status with the PACE.
On 13 July 1996, then President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Haydar Aliyev sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in which he expressed desire of Azerbaijan to become a full member of the Council of Europe and to join the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights).
On 11 September 1996, at the 573rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies of the Committee of Ministers, Resolution (96) 32 was adopted, which implied the accession of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe, the intensification of the negotiations with government bodies aiming at accelerating the democratization process in Azerbaijan and providing aid through partnership programs.
On 20 January 1998, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued an Order “On measures to deepen cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe».
On 10 February, 1998, upon the legislative initiative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan passed the law on the abolition of the death penalty. A de facto moratorium on the execution of the death penalty has been in place since 1993. This decision was one of the most important steps taken by the Republic of Azerbaijan to ensure fundamental human rights and freedoms.
On 16 August 1998, the censorship on the press was abolished in Azerbaijan.
On 14 May 1999, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued another Order "On measures to deepen cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe and to protect the interests of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Europe".
On 28 June 2000, the PACE adopted a positive Opinion 222 (2000) on Azerbaijan’s application for membership of the Council of Europe. In the voting attended by 126 deputies, 120 people voted in favor, 1 against, and 5 abstained.
On 17 January, 2001, the Committee of Ministers adopted a final decision regarding the accession of Azerbaijan as a full member to the Council of Europe. Thus, on 25 January 2001, the flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan was raised before the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, in the presence of then President H.E. Mr. Haydar Aliyev, and the Republic of Azerbaijan became 43rd member of the Council of Europe.
The delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan headed by H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev participated, for the first time as a full member, in the PACE plenary session on 24-27 April 2001.
On 15 April 2002, the Republic of Azerbaijan deposited the instrument of ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols. The Convention and its protocols thus entered into force in respect of Azerbaijan. From that day on, persons under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan (citizens, stateless persons, legal persons, etc.) have a right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (European Court).
Obligations of Azerbaijan as a Council of Europe member state
In early 2000, the PACE Political Affairs Committee sent to the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan a list of commitments to be fulfilled by Azerbaijan after its accession to the Council of Europe, and this document was signed by representatives of political parties represented in the Milli Majlis.
In its Opinion 222 (2000) the PACE took note of the letters from the President of Azerbaijan, the speaker of the parliament, the Prime Minister and the chairmen of the political parties represented in Parliament, and noted that Azerbaijan undertook to honour its respective commitments.
On 20 November 2000, the Committee of Ministers decided to establish a Monitoring Group (Ago Group) consisting of representatives of Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Germany under the chairmanship of the Permanent Representative of Italy to oversee the implementation of Azerbaijan's respective accession commitments. The group visited Azerbaijan several times during its term and produced relevant reports.
On 8 December 2010, the Committee of Ministers discussed the activities of the Ago Monitoring Group and, taking into account the achievements in the field of human rights protection and democratization in Azerbaijan, decided to discontinue the activities of Ago Group. Azerbaijan has eventually come under more simplified monitoring by the Group of Rapporteurs on Democracy (GR-DEM) of the Committee of Ministers. Relevant decision of the Committee of Ministers thus approved the termination of the Ago Group and the transfer of monitoring of the outstanding commitments of Azerbaijan and Armenia, including the commitment to a peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, to GR-DEM.
In this context, the delegation of members of the Secretariat (Directorate of Political Affairs) regularly visit Azerbaijan and report to GR-DEM. The last such visit took place on 6-7 May 2019 during which the delegation held various meetings in a number of government agencies. The report on state of implementation of the commitments entered into by Azerbaijan covering the period of June 2017- May 2019 was submitted to GR-DEM in October 2019 and relevant decision on the basis of this report was approved by the Ministers' Deputies at its meeting on 17 March 2021.
Ensuring Social Rights
Azerbaijan ratified the European Social Charter (revised) on 2 September 2004 to better promote and guarantee social and economic human rights in the country. Azerbaijan has been pursuing constructive dialogue with the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) which follows the conformity of the situation in member states with the European Social Charter. So far, Azerbaijan has submitted 6 reports on the application of the Revised Charter to the ECSR and received the Committee's recommendations on bringing legislation completely into the same line with the Charter. The measures put forward in the Employment Strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the period of 2006-2015 aimed at ensuring "efficient employment of population through using the labor resources" have been testified the country's dedication to the commitments undertaken by joining the Social Charter.
Azerbaijan is interested in ensuring high level meetings and cooperation among the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe member states as it enables high level officials to come together and discuss social threats and difficulties as well as exchange views on progressive policies for tackling them. Thus, Azerbaijan offered to host the next Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion in Baku in 2015 and the offer was welcomed by the Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion in their second meeting held in Turkey on 11-12 October 2012.
Fight against corruption
Azerbaijan gives utmost importance to collaboration with the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in fighting and prevention of corruption. Since joining the GRECO in 2004, Azerbaijan has taken a series of legislative and institutional measures to enhance implementation of the GRECO recommendations and relevant international and European anti-corruption instruments adhered by the country. Along with improving legislative and institutional framework, Azerbaijan has also carried out several joint projects with the Council of Europe aimed at increasing practical capacity building of relevant stakeholders. Consequently, in its 2012 report, the GRECO indicated that Azerbaijan has satisfactorily implemented seven GRECO recommendations out of nine, whereas two have been partially implemented in the field of criminalization.
With the view to strengthen legal framework in fighting against corruption since 1 June 2004 the Republic of Azerbaijan is the party of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the Civil law Convention on Corruption. At the same time, with a view to improve its activities in the above-mentioned spheres since 1 August 2013 the Republic of Azerbaijan became a party of the Additional Protocol to the Criminal law Convention on corruption.
MONEYVAL - the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures of the Council of Europe evaluates the effectiveness of domestic measures to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism in Council of Europe member states. Therefore, constructive work with the MONEYVAL continues being important for the Government of Azerbaijan in order to effectively combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Pursuant to the recommendations of the MONEYVAL, the Financial Monitoring Service under the Central Bank of the Republic of Azerbaijan was established in 2009. The Service is authorized to implement the state policy in prevention of legalization of criminally obtained funds and other property and financing of terrorism in the Republic of Azerbaijan, improve the supervision system and coordinate the activity of relevant government authorities. Azerbaijan is a party to the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (CETS141).
Fight against trafficking in human beings
Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2010. According to the Convention, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is responsible for monitoring implementation of the Convention. Following comprehensive information GRETA was provided with in response to GRETA's specific questionnaire on the situation of combating human trafficking, a delegation of the GRETA paid complementary visit to Azerbaijan from 13 to 17 May 2013 in the context of the first round of evaluation of the implementation of the Convention by Azerbaijan. During the visit, the GRETA delegation held discussions with several state bodies and visited special places for assistance and rehabilitation of human trafficking victims. On the basis of the information gathered during the visit and the reply to GRETA’s questionnaire, GRETA will prepare a report containing an analysis of the implementation of the Convention by Azerbaijan and suggestions for further action.
Cooperation with the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) of the Council of Europe
The history of Azerbaijan's cooperation with the Venice Commission dates back to 1996. Azerbaijan became member of the partial agreement establishing this important body of the Council of Europe in the plenary session of the Commission held on March 17-18, 1996. Since then Azerbaijan has been closely cooperating with the Venice Commission in improvement of legislation and expertise of important draft laws. The Venice Commission issued opinions on the Election Code, as well as the laws on "Freedom of assembly", "Normative-legal acts", "Freedom of religious belief" etc.
Cooperation in the field of education, culture, youth and gender equality
Cooperation with the Council of Europe in these important areas had started before the accession to the organization with Azerbaijan becoming party to the European Cultural Convention in 1997.
Azerbaijan's cooperation in those fields has been on the rise since the accession in 2001. High level delegations of Azerbaijan have attended number of important ministerial conferences of culture and education. Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Culture was held in Baku on 2-4 December 2008. The conference entitled “Intercultural dialogue as a basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighbouring regions” adopted Baku declaration, which launched "Baku Process" envisaging cooperation on intercultural dialogue inside European societies and between Europe and its neighbouring regions. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Ilham Aliyev and Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis also attended the Conference.
Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Equality between women and men was held in Baku on 24-25 May 2010. The conference endorsed the resolution and Action Plan.
Baku also hosted 18th Council of Europe informal Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport in September 2010. Conference brought together ministers and other high ranking officials from 35 parties to the European Cultural Convention. Conference adopted number of important resolutions, including the resolution on "Promotion of the integrity of sport against the manipulation of results (match-fixing)", "Granting of visas to athletes attending competitions", "Monitoring of the Sport Conventions", "Representation of European public authorities within the World Anti-Doping Agency", "Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union".
Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in the Council of Europe documents
On 22 April 1997, PACE adopted Resolution 1119 (1997) stressing the political settlement of the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia through negotiations drawing in particular on the following principles, based upon the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 Paris Charter:
- inviolability of borders;
- guaranteed security for all peoples in the areas concerned, particularly through multinational peacekeeping forces;
- extensive autonomy status for Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh to be negotiated by all the parties concerned;
- right of return of refugees and displaced persons and their reintegration respecting human rights.
On 24-27 April, 2001, the delegation of Azerbaijan to the PACE headed by H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev participated, for the first time, in the winter plenary session of the PACE as a full member. Thanks to H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev’s constant efforts, the consequences of Armenia’s aggressive policy were successfully brought to the attention of PACE members. Thus, during the session, the written statement titled “The recognition of genocide committed by Armenians to the Azerbaijani population” signed by 29 representatives of 9 countries represented in 5 political groups of the PACE, and a motion for the recommendation titled “The prisoners and hostages of war kept in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh” signed by 20 representatives of 14 countries were circulated as the official documents of the PACE. These documents condemned the massacre of Khojaly inhabitants by Armenians, the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territories by Armenia, the fact of holding 783 Azerbaijanis, including children, women and elderly as hostages in Armenia and occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
On 25 January 2005, at its winter part-session, the PACE adopted Resolution 1416 (2005) and Recommendation 1690 (2005) entitled “The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with OSCE Minsk Conference”. The Parliamentary Assembly has regretted that, more than a decade the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains unsolved, hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced, and considerable parts of the territory of Azerbaijan are still occupied by Armenian forces. The Assembly has mentioned that the occupation of foreign territory by a member state constitutes a grave violation of that state’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and reaffirmed the right of displaced persons from the area of conflict to return to their homes safely and with dignity. It recalled Resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993) of the United Nations Security Council and urged the parties concerned to comply with them, in particular by refraining from any armed hostilities and by withdrawing military forces from the occupied territories.
In this resolution, the Assembly requested its Bureau to establish an ad hoc committee, which will include, inter alia, the heads of national delegations of states that have agreed to participate in the OSCE Minsk Conference (Group), with the aim of presenting annual reports to the Assembly on the actions of their governments taken to achieve peaceful resolution of the conflict.
As a continuation of this process, the report prepared by the late Lord Russell Johnston was presented at the meeting of the ad hoc committee on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on 9 January 2006. The report referred, among others, to the occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories, illegal separatist regime established by Armenia in the occupied territories, existence of nearly a million people expelled from their territories.
However, the ad hoc committee created in accordance with Resolution 1416 (2005), in fact suspended its work due to the non-constructive position of the Armenian delegation.
During the PACE summer part-session in June 2008, a report on “The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan” prepared by co-rapporteurs Mr. Andres Herkel and Ms. Yevgeniya Zhivkova were discussed and Resolution 1614 (2008) adopted. As regards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Resolution stated that sustainable democratic development will be extremely difficult in Azerbaijan as long as the country’s territorial integrity has not been restored. It has also referred to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution “on the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”, adopted on 14 March 2008, which expresses serious concern that the armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan continues to endanger international peace and security, reaffirms Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, expresses support for its internationally recognized borders and demands the immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories.
At the meeting of the PACE Bureau held on 28 January 2011, despite the resistance of the Armenian delegation, a decision was adopted unanimously (excluding the Armenian delegation) to restore the activities of the ad hoc committee on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. To this end, Mr. Jordi Xucla, a Spanish member of the Assembly, was elected as the new chairperson of the ad-hoc committee, and the new composition of the committee was defined by the decision of the PACE Bureau on 7 February 2011. However, in 2012 the ad-hoc committee was again suspended as the Armenian side refused to attend its meetings.
On 26 January 2016, at the plenary session of the Assembly two reports concerning the occupied territories of Azerbaijan were discussed:
- Report on “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan”, prepared by the Rapporteur of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, British parliamentarian Mr. Robert Walter;
- Report on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”, prepared by the Rapporteur of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development by the member of the delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Ms. Milica Markovich.
During the discussions at the plenary, both Rapporteurs stated that these documents were adopted by the committees, despite the protests of the Armenian side. The debates were followed by the vote. The first report was rejected with 66 in favor, 70 against and 45 abstentions, whereas the second report was approved with 98 in favor, 71 against and 40 abstentions.
In its Resolution (2085) 2016 adopted following the report on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”, the Parliamentary Assembly has considered that the deliberate creation of an artificial environmental crisis must be regarded as “environmental aggression” and seen as a hostile act by one State towards another aimed at creating environmental disaster areas and making normal life impossible for the population concerned. In this regard, it has deplored the fact that the occupation by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh and other adjacent areas of Azerbaijan creates similar humanitarian and environmental problems for the citizens of Azerbaijan living in the Lower Karabakh valley. In view of this urgent humanitarian problem, the Assembly has requested an immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the region concerned, and called on the Armenian authorities to cease using water resources as tools of political influence or an instrument of pressure benefiting only one of the parties to the conflict.
Furthermore, the delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Parliamentary Assembly has constantly brought the results of Armenia's policy of aggression and occupation against Azerbaijan to the attention of PACE members. A number of documents (below) related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were put forward by the delegation of Azerbaijan and supported by numerous members of the Assembly:
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has also declared its long-standing unambiguous position on the issue of respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity of its member States on various occasions. At its Ministerial session held on 16-17 May, 2019 in Helsinki, Finland, the Committee of Ministers adopted respective decisions whereby reaffirming its commitments to the norms and principles of international law, the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member States within their internationally recognised borders.
Chairmanship of Azerbaijan to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
Azerbaijan assumed, for the first time since becoming the member of the Council of Europe in 2001, the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at 124th session of the Committee of Ministers, held on 6 May, 2014 in Vienna.Azerbaijani delegation to Vienna Ministerial was headed by Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs.Over the six months of Chairmanship, Azerbaijan invested its efforts in furthering the objectives of the Council of Europe around its three key pillars - human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Azerbaijan’s Chairmanship identified its priorities taking full account of the topical issues on the agenda of the Council of Europe and persistent challenges encountered by member States. During its Chairmanship, Azerbaijan contributed to the mission of the Council of Europe proceeding from its positive record and comparative advantages in key areas.
The Chairmanship of Azerbaijan placed particular attention on the following priority areas:
- Strengthening the rule of law through enhanced cooperation in combating corruption, including manipulation of sportsresults;
- Consolidation of culturally diverse societies based on mutual respect and understanding;
- Ensuring social cohesion and social sustainability: promoting access to human rights of vulnerable groups;
- Youth education in human rights and democratic citizenship; nurturing a generation of educated and responsible youth and ensuring their access to rights.
Altogether 18 events were organized during the Chairmanship in Baku and Strasbourg. The capital of Azerbaijan hosted important conferences and meetings, such as the Conference on international standards and national experiences in the fight against corruption, the Council of Europe 2014 Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, the high-level conference on the role of national judges in enhancing the domestic application of the Convention and the high-level conference on the Council of Europe neighbourhood policy. H.E. Mr Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan addressed the Assembly at its June session. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers presented to the Parliamentary Assembly his oral and written communications on the activities of the Committee of Ministers at the June and October sessions. Furthermore, Baku hosted the meeting of the Standing Committee of the PACE on 22 May 2014, during which PACE members exchanged views with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Elmar Mammadyarov.
Council of Europe Action Plan for Azerbaijan 2018-2021
The Council of Europe Action Plan for Azerbaijan 2018-2021 approved by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 12 October 2018 is an important tool for successful co-operation on a wide range of areas between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe.In this Action Plan, the Council of Europe and the Azerbaijani authorities have agreed to jointly carry forward, through co-operation programmes, the reforms aiming to further increase effectiveness, accountability and transparency of the judiciary and the prosecution service, to enhance the application of European human rights standards, to advance the reform of the penitentiary, to continue to strengthen fight against corruption and money laundering, to promote children’s rights, to protect personal data, to fight cybercrime and to improve independence of the media. It has also been agreed to promote human rights education for young people, develop democratic and inclusive climate in schools and to enhance the dialogue between the national authorities and civil society organisations, while paying particular attention to gender equality.
The Action Plan builds on the outcomes of the previous Action Plan for Azerbaijan 2014-2017, under which developments were reported in areas such as increasing capacities of the judiciary and improving court management; fight against corruption and cybercrime; increasing training capacities of the Justice Academy; improving curricular for the students of journalism; improving management capacities of senior managers and medical staff of prisons and developing youth human rights education.
The Committee of Ministers is responsible, through its Group of Rapporteurs on Democracy (GR-DEM) for the overall assessment of the Action Plan implementation. Progress made under the Action Plan is jointly assessed by the Council of Europe and the Azerbaijani authorities. For this purpose, an Action Plan Steering Committee is established, composed of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other national stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Action Plan as well as of representatives of the Council of Europe.
Partnership for Good Governance (PGG)
Azerbaijan is taking an active part in various projects under Council of Europe/ European Union Partnership for Good Governance (PGG) for Eastern Partnership countries. This co-operation programme aims to strengthen the capacity of Eastern Partnership countries to implement domestic reforms to bring them closer to European standards in the fields of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The PGG actions, both country-specific and regional, were designed in close consultation with national stakeholders, in the framework of the Council of Europe’s country-specific action plans and the European Union's country-specific annual action programmes.The programme has had two successive phases: PGG I (2015-2018) and PGG II (2019-2021).
In April 2014, the implementation of partnership projects with Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) in the areas of human rights, democracy and rule of law was agreed between the European Union and the Council of Europe. The European Unionacts as the main donor, whereas the Council of Europe provides the expertise and serves as the key actor in implementation of projects together with beneficiary countries. A number of bilateral and regional projects have been implemented within the framework of this initiative. The PGG Phase I came to an end in 2018.
In the PGG Phase I, a number of regional and bilateral projects related to reforms in the judicial system, combating corruption, cybercrime, awareness-raising activities on human rights, local administration, freedom of expression and media, reforms on penitential service, gender equality, etc. were implemented.
Overall, in addition to 14 regional projects, a total of EUR 4.9 million worth of bilateral projects were also implemented for Azerbaijan:
- The implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the precedent law of the European Court of Human Rights in Azerbaijan;
- Improvements in the efficiency and quality of the judicial services in the Republic of Azerbaijan;
- Strengthening the capacity to fight and prevent corruption in Azerbaijan;
- Freedom of expression and media.
Azerbaijan participates at 2 national and 4 regional projects implemented in the framework of PGG Phase II (2019-2021):
- Strengthening Anti-Money Laundering in Azerbaijan;
- Strengthening the efficiency and quality of the judicial system in Azerbaijan.
- Strengthening measures to prevent and combat economic crime;
- Strengthening the access to justice through non-judiciary redress mechanisms for victims of discrimination, hate crime and hate speech in Eastern Partnership countries;
- Women’s Access to Justice: delivering on the Istanbul Convention and the European gender equality standards;
- Strengthening the progression of lawyers with European standards.
PGG II will run until December 2021.Azerbaijan views the PGG as a useful platform for cooperation on sharing of best practices, mutual exchanges, strengthening capacity and consolidating progress in a number of important areas. The results achieved during the first phase of PGG have shown viability and usefulness of this cooperation platform. The activities within the PGG framework correlate well with undertakings within the Action Plan for Azerbaijan thereby serving as an integral element of this important bilateral instrument.
Legal-treaty basis of cooperation
The Republic of Azerbaijan is the party of the sixty of international treaties adopted within the Council of Europe.
During recent period the Republic of Azerbaijan has signed or ratified the following international treaties adopted within the Council of Europe.
- Third Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Extradition
The Protocol is ratified by the Republic of Azerbaijan, with the declaration, on 8 January 2014 and has entered into force in respect of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 1 May 2014.
- Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism
The Convention is ratified by the Republic of Azerbaijan, with the declaration, on 4 April 2014 and will enter into force in respect of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 1 August 2014.
- Protocol No. 15 amending the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
This Protocol is signed by the Republic of Azerbaijan on 18 December 2013 and ratified on 3 July 2014. The document has not yet entered into force.
Partial Agreements are not international treaties but merely a particular form of co-operation within the Organisation. They allow member States of the Council of Europe to abstain from participating in a certain activity advocated by other member States.
From a statutory point of view, a partial agreement remains an activity of the Organisation in the same way as other programme activities, except that a partial agreement has its own budget and working methods which are determined solely by the members of the partial agreement.
Azerbaijan participates in the following partial agreements of the Council of Europe:
- Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (Pompidou Group) website
- Co-operation Group for the Prevention of, Protection Against, and Organisation of Relief in Major Natural and Technological Disasters (EUR-OPA) website
- European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre) website
- Partial Agreement on Youth Mobility through the Youth Card website
- Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) website
- Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes website
- European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) website
- Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) website
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