Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Assessment of Conformity of Organizational and Operational Aspects of Municipalities in Azerbaijan With Principles and Requirements of European Charter

Executive Summary

Major Findings
It is already 10th anniversary of the country’s membership to European Charter of Local Self-Government. By joining the Charter in December 2001, Azerbaijan undertook various commitments regarding better self-governance in the country (signing 25 out of 30 articles of the 1st chapter of the Charter). Over the past period, a number of laws and other normative acts have been enacted establishing the legislative basis of forming and developing local self-governance in the country, three municipal elections held, as well as, some measures taken to establish and develop municipalities in practice.

This report is based on the monitoring which tried to determine the extent to which the legislative basis of local self-governance and municipalities already established in the country are in line with the principles and requirements of the Charter.

Upon developing this report, the monitoring group composed of the member organizations of the Alliance reviewed European Charter of Local Self-Government, explanatory “notes” of Council of Europe’s experts to the provisions of the Charter, relevant documents developed by various institutions of Council of Europe dealing with various aspects of local self-governance, recommendations and commentaries of European Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Minister’s Committee and other institutions aimed at resolving specific problems of local selfgovernance in both Azerbaijan and other countries, held the expertise of laws forming the legalnormative basis of municipalities’ operations in Azerbaijan, and studied existing various challenges associated with municipalities.

According to the conclusion that the monitoring group has arrived at, the following are the major challenges uncovered upon assessing the current legislation of municipalities, as well as, the real situation of the establishment, running and development of municipalities against the background of European Charter’s principles, requirements and recommendations:
• The legally defined status and scope of competence of municipalities in Azerbaijan in the
Constitution and law on “status of municipalities” do not enable municipalities either to have a status of real authority or be identified as a body part of the entire public administration;
• The real scope of competence of municipalities is confined to maintaining the municipal roads,
delivering social assistance to low-income citizens that are not covered by the state social
programmes, maintaining cemeteries and organizing funerals;
• There is a problem of overlapping responsibilities in local governance of Azerbaijan in that the
legislation assigns the same responsibility to a state body along with municipalities;
• Municipalities in Azerbaijan suffer from extremely weak financial potential. The per capita
incomes of local budgets in the country amounted to around 3.2 manats in 2010. Although a
number of income sources are identified for municipalities in the legislation, a significant
majority of these sources are not sustainable and do not bring in high income;
• The amount of transfers for municipalities from state budget is very low. The distribution
mechanism of transfers among municipalities is flawed and it is thus unclear which criteria are referred to upon distributing the transfers among various municipalities and assessing the their needs for financial resources;
• In the recent years, some state bodies are endorsing stiffer control of state bodies over
• Cases of municipalities having to provide reports not required by the legislation are becoming more common, i.e., local executive committees unlawfully require that municipalities provide a monthly report on the land turnover and a biannual report on their financial status;
• The fact that there is no legislation governing the relations between local state bodies and
municipalities leads to the breach of the entitlement to local self-governance;
• Imprecise division of responsibilities between municipalities and local state executive
committees, as well as, incomplete and unexceptional responsibilities of municipalities are
often the source of conflicts;
• The relations between municipalities and local executive committees are based on the
principles of «dominance» and «dependence»;
• Cases of executive committees hindering municipalities to dispose their budget funds
independently are becoming more common;
• Municipalities have not yet received documents verifying their properties including
administrative buildings, as well as, their rights to these properties. Although it is 11 years have an administrative building yet. The central apparatus of most of the village municipalities is accommodated in several rooms in the building of the representation of executive committee;
• Three (urban, village and town) national associations established as municipal unions
operate weakly and do not have notable operations in the field of defending municipalities
interests and putting forward an advanced concept or strategy of local self-governance;
• There are serious gaps and problems in the legislation governing the status and responsibilities, and rights and obligations of municipal servants;
• The existing skills of personnel do not allow for the efficient organization of local selfgovernance. The major reason is because there is no system of training and retraining municipal personnel;
• There is no clarity around the formation principles of municipalities in Azerbaijan. Since no
administrative-territorial division (village, settlement, district and town) of local self-governments is considered, there is no practice of differentiation of municipal responsibilities based on the administrative-territorial division;
• Although various forms of public control over municipalities are applied in Azerbaijan, they
cannot be considered advanced from the standpoint of efficient organization of municipalities’ activities. There are grave problems in both intra-municipal control and public control over municipalities.
The relevant chapters of the report deal with these problems in more details.

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This monitoring report has been prepared by NGO Alliance for Municipal Development under Oxfam-funded project “Strengthening Organizational and Institutional Capacity of Municipalities in Azerbaijan” and Oxfam GB in Azerbaijan is not responsible for the content of the report.

Further information about the Alliance can be found on

Project funded by the European UnionEU