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During a scheduled meeting of the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Cape Town, South Africa, the issue of Azerbaijan’s membership in the OGP was considered. According to the official OGP website, the 22-member Steering Committee voted to lower Azerbaijan’s status from a full member to an inactive country, with 16 votes for, 3 against and 3 abstentions.
According to the press release, the primary factor in this decision is the restrictive operating environment for civil society institutions in Azerbaijan.
“Closure of the civic space for NGOs undermines the principles and values of the Open Government Partnership. The government of Azerbaijan has one year to fulfill its commitments to the Open Government Partnership. During this time, the government should take concrete steps to address the problems raised by the civil society. In its new status, Azerbaijan will be ineligible to vote, but will be able to attend OGP events as an observer. Till the next discussion of the status, the government will receive assistance from various committees and working groups of the Open Government Partnership,” reads the press release.
Azerbaijan joined the OGP in 2011. In accordance with its obligations, the country has adopted the “National Action Plan on Promotion of Open Government for 2012-2015” and the “National Action Plan on Fight against Corruption for 2012-2015.” The next action plan was expected to be adopted by June 2015. However, it was not until April 27, 2016 that Azerbaijan approved the “National Action Plan on Promotion of Open Government for 2016-2018.”