Azerbaijan

The third anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of NRGI advisory council member Ilgar Mammadov comes at a grave inflection point for Azerbaijan. The government, made wealthy by Caspian oil deposits, is now on its knees due to cratering oil prices.

In November 2015, PWYP members from across Eurasia met in Ulaanbaatar for an NRGI-led training session to discuss common extractives governance challenges their countries face. Shrinking civil society space was a dominant concern.

The prolonged oil slump that began in mid-2014 has made things complicated for Azerbaijan. The rapid decrease of oil revenues—the country’s main economic driver for the past 10 years—poses real threats to macroeconomic and financial stability in Azerbaijan.

In this era of low commodity prices, oil- and mineral-rich governments in Eurasia are under acute financial pressure.

The Open Government Partnership, which launched in 2011, quickly morphed into a popular initiative. OGP membership has grown from just eight countries to 66 participating nations. Many governments and international organizations have given it direct support.

A review recently prepared by a coalition of Azerbaijan non-governmental organizations is unique—it is one of the first deep analyses of that country’s EITI report, and the first based on the new EITI standard.

The oil, gas and mining sectors are critical for a majority of Open Government Partnership (OGP) countries. Yet, only about 10 percent of OGP commitments relate to natural resources...

NRGI strongly condemns the severe beating of NRGI advisory council board member Ilgar Mammadov in an Azerbaijan prison on 16 October 2015. It is believed that high-ranking prison staff battered Mr. Mammadov, who has been unjustly imprisoned and remains incarcerated despite international outcry.

The State Oil Fund of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOFAZ) was created in 1999 to promote macroeconomic stability, preserve oil revenues for future generations and channel Azerbaijan’s resource wealth into more productive assets...

Poor governance and systemic corruption are prevalent in many resource-rich countries. Given their highly concentrated and highly profitable nature, the oil, gas and mining industries can generate the kind of political and private incentives that favor rent-seeking and institutional (or state) capture.

In June NRGI’s regional office in Eurasia brought together more than 25 multi-stakeholder group (MSG) members from five countries for a collaborative training session on analysis of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report data. The training took into account a number of EITI reports expected by the end of year.

Since its launch in 2002, the EITI has improved revenue transparency in many regions. So far, nearly 40 countries have released some 140 EITI reports detailing the receipt of extractive revenues by governments from oil, gas and mining companies. In 2013, implementing countries adopted a new reporting standard, releasing even more detailed information.

While the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has successfully increased transparency in the extractive sector over the last ten years, data from its reports are often underutilized by global and in-country actors. If this challenge is overcome, EITI reports could inform much more to policymaking and public debate, and thereby contribute to better governance and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sector.

In 2013, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) adopted a new standard that would, among other things, help civil society organizations communicate and collaborate with government on extractive sector issues, especially in regions with weak dialogue among stakeholders. One of those regions is Eurasia, which has a number of EITI implementing countries.

Azerbaijan is the first-ever country to be downgraded from “compliant” in the EITI. The country now has an opportunity to improve civic space and enable its EITI process to function as a truly multi-stakeholder initiative.

In early 2015 the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) will begin its early validation process in Azerbaijan, where government opposition toward civil society organizations, including the unjust arrest of a prominent transparency advocate, has stalled EITI-related activities since 2013...

Recently CSOs from eight Eurasian countries gathered in Istanbul for a regional meeting of extractive sector governance stakeholders, preceded by a two-day training organized by the NRGI and the Publish What You Pay secretariat...

Following an EITI mission to gather views on the deteriorating environment for civil society organizations in Azerbaijan, the EITI board has called for an early validation process to begin in the country on January 1, 2015.

Recently, Indonesia hosted the first Asia Pacific OGP regional conference in Bali, where civil society organizations urged governments to safeguard and promote free civic space, adopt governance as a standalone goal in the post-2015 development agenda, and formally join OGP.

Beyond the IRM and a government self-assessment, an essential component of OGP work in any country is the development of so-called shadow reports, which help identify gaps in the implementation process and measure progress...

What are "shadow reports" and how are they used to help OGP in making governments "more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens"? Paul Maassen, OGP civil society coordinator, says they provide "an extra tool to push for real government commitment."

The Revenue Watch Institute – Natural Resource Charter (RWI-NRC) welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of our advisory council member Ilgar Mammadov...

In mismanaged economies, the path to government accountability and sustainability begins with transparency—but there is often resistance along the way. After all, power is at stake...

RWI condemns the sentence of seven years’ imprisonment announced yesterday in Azerbaijan for Ilgar Mammadov...

Oil production in Azerbaijan increased rapidly in the 2000s and the country reached peak oil production in 2010, when 363 million barrels of oil were produced. Then, production declined to 310 million barrels in 2012...