Azerbaijan announced its intention to leave the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) at the 36th EITI Board Meeting held on March 8-9 in Bogota, Columbia.
The announcement arrived after the EITI Board decided not to return full membership status to Azerbaijan due to the country’s failure to ease repression on NGOs and civil society groups.
Executive Director of the State Oil Fund (SOFAZ) Shahmar Movsumov made the announcement on March 10.
“I have to officially announce that Azerbaijan is leaving the EITI. I kindly ask the International Secretariat to remove Azerbaijan from the list of countries implementing the protocol of the EITI immediately”, he told
The EITI is aglobal standard established in 2003 with the purpose of promoting the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources. Azerbaijan was among the first countries to join it as early as 2003 and to obtain full membership by 2008.
However, it was downgraded from a full member to a candidate country in April 2015, due to the government’s interference with independent civil society. Its case was reviewed back in October 2016, but progress was deemed lacking. The same was repeated during the Bogota board meeting today.
“The Board welcomed that Azerbaijan had taken further steps to meet the EITI Standard, but it was assessed not to have fully met the corrective actions related to civil society space set by the Board in October”, an
official statements reads
“We strongly believe that as a result of significant changes made to the current regulations, Azerbaijan was able to accomplish the implementation of all corrective actions. We consider Board’s decision on suspension of Azerbaijan as an unfair one”, replied Movsumov.
Azerbaijani was to go through a third period of validation on July 26, after which it would have been delisted from the EITI were it not to have made adequate progress.
Prior to the Bogoda meeting, 21 groups including Human Rights Watch, ARTICLE 19, and International Media Support called for Azerbaijan to be suspended from EITI.
“The Azerbaijani government is snubbing the EITI by ignoring its requirements for reforms and by systematically dismantling the country’s independent civil society. Following numerous reviews and warnings, the EITI should suspend Azerbaijan’s further participation until the government makes serious, lasting changes to allow nongovernmental groups to operate freely in Azerbaijan”, said
, South Caucasus director at
Human Rights Watch
Fredrik Reinfeldt, the EITI Chair, said that he hopes Azerbaijan reconsiders its decision.
“We all hope that the government of Azerbaijan will return to the EITI and continue the good work done in a