Over the past five years the Government of Azerbaijan (GOAJ) undertook a series of steps to reduce the level of corruption in the country: (i) Established the CCC and an anti-corruption department under the General Prosecutor’s Office; (ii) Adopted a number of laws to enhance access to information and transparency and improved cooperation with NGOs; (iii) Implemented the state program for combating corruption in 2004-2006 and adopted a new national strategy and action plan for 2007-2011.
As a result of these measures Azerbaijan moved up in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index from the bottom third percentile to the twelfth. Despite this, according to the Global Competitiveness Index released by the World Economic Forum corruption continues to be a major obstacle for doing business.
The project for the Alternative Monitoring of the Implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan for Combating Corruption helps to “increase the role of civil society institutions in implementing the National Strategy” (Part V, Provision 56 of the Action Plan). Additionally it facilitates the creation of a monitoring system for strategy implementation through alternative monitoring and status reports (Part VI, Provision 59). The Coalition identified the strengthening of public relations (Part II, Provision 16) as an area allowing for immediate involvement.
This document reports on the results of the second part of the project, which includes the following components as focal points for monitoring activities:
• Measures undertaken by government agencies to implement the Action Plan;
• Progress made as a result of Strategy and Action Plan implementation;
• The role of CSOs in developing policies for combating corruption.
The Coalition conducted an analysis of the information gathered from twelve government agencies that received the questionnaire. It also undertook research to determine whether the implementation plans of these agencies are being uploaded to the web site of the CCC for public viewing and awareness.
In the questionnaire sent out to the central executive bodies the Coalition requested the following information:
• Report on the activity of the agency (ministry, committee, etc.) in 2008 according to section 12 of the Action Plan;
• Updates on the implementation measures undertaken according to section 58 of the Action Plan.
The following conclusions were made based on the results of the Coalition’s analysis:
(i) The central executive bodies generally do not seriously approach their obligation to prepare and submit annual implementation plans to the CCC before December 20;
(ii) The central executive bodies do not seriously approach their obligation to submit status reports as provided in section 12 of the Action Plan;
(iii) Although the Action Plan should be publicly available and according to article 29 of the law on obtaining information falls in the category of information which should be disclosed, this document was not placed on the web page of the CCC.
The monitoring conducted by the Coalition was designed to be broad and included most sections of the Action Plan. Four key action parameters were established to ensure that the monitoring fully reflected the implementation process:
• Reflect compliance with the timeframes for activities set forward in the Action Plan;
• Where possible support the development of qualitative and quantitative indicators to gauge progress;
• Evaluate the impact of measures taken to increase transparency and reduce corruption (perceived changes in the situation);
• Report on the enforcement of control mechanisms according to the provisions of the Action Plan.
The project for the Alternative Monitoring of the Implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan for Combating Corruption is support by the USAID Civil Society Project and implemented by a Coalition of civil society organizations. The Coalition is comprised of the Citizens’ Labor Rights Protection League, Azerbaijan Young Lawyers Union, Eurasian Lawyers Association, and the Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation. The goal of the Coalition is to increase the effectiveness of efforts to combat corruption in Azerbaijan by ensuring the active participation of CSOs in the implementation of the Action Plan.