The new Law on Public Participation in Azerbaijan, which entered into force on June 1, 2014, provides new opportunities for citizens to actively participate in state governance and government decision-making processes.
With the goal of raising public awareness about this new law and mechanisms for citizen participation that the law prescribes for, such as Public Councils, EWMI’s Socio-Economic Development Activity in Azerbaijan (SEDA) and the Council for State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan (CSSN) held a national conference on “Public Participation: Legal and Practical Issues” in Ganja on November 13, 2014. This event was the first in a series of EWMI-supported activities that will include workshops, round tables, and trainings, designed to support the establishment of Public Councils at the Executive Committee level in rayons throughout Azerbaijan.
The Conference brought together more than 95 participants including Members of Parliament, heads of local Executive Committees from the Ganja-Gazakh economic region, municipal officials, local civil society organizations and international experts. The event provided participants with an opportunity to discuss national and international best practices in legal mechanisms for ensuring public participation.
“The adoption of the Law on Public Participation and its approval by the President Ilham Aliyev has been a crucial milestone from the perspective of citizens’ participation in the state administration and decision-making. This step of the Government of Azerbaijan is a continuation of legal reforms, the strengthening of civil society, and democratization processes,” emphasized Mr. Azay Guliyev, member of the parliament and CSSN Chairman.
“The conference was organized at a very high level and I’m confident to say that it helped many participants to understand the importance of the new Law on Public Participation and the opportunities that this law provides. If we want each citizen to be able to participate in decisions taken by governmental bodies we must find the most flexible form for citizen engagement. We, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are absolutely ready to cooperate with the government and thank you everyone who was involved in organization of this conference,” said Ms. Sabina Alakbarova, Chairperson of Young Leaders PU, a local organization.
SEDA is a five-year program that supports public participation in socio-economic development at the regional level in Azerbaijan. SEDA is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), co-financed by the Government of Azerbaijan, and implemented by East West Management Institute.