Public participation in the design and implementation of legislation is one of the most important elements of democracy in developed societies. Thus, public participation involves not only checking the effectiveness of laws, but also awareness of issues of public activation, legal participation, and rights, so people can understand how their ideas play a role in the development of these laws that affect any part of their lives. In addition, public participation in the legislation contributes not only to participation of people in elections, but also to participation of people in political, economic and social life of the country, thereby strengthening the statehood and enforcing the efficient work of legislature.
The United Nations (UN) has repeatedly stressed the importance of the participation of various groups, organizations and individuals in legislation within the framework of several UN resolutions, and urged Member States to undertake ongoing reforms. Documents such as “Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Bodies in the Promotion and Protection of Well-known Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, Resolution of 2013 “On Equal Participation in Political Life”, United Nations 2014 Human Rights Council resolution are a good example of this. A number of international organizations have for many years been calling on public to increase their influence on the legislation and to empower people to develop and enforce these laws affecting their lives. For example, Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that everyone should have the right and the opportunity to participate directly and freely in the conduct of public affairs, without any discrimination or unjustified restrictions.
The legislation in Azerbaijan is implemented by 125 deputies of the National Assembly elected for a five-year term. Public participation in the legislation was not generally open to the public. Changes are made in the format of proposals by various agencies (including business and financial sectors), including international organizations. The box “Participate in the Discussion of the Draft Law” operates on the official website of the National Assembly, but citizens use it as a platform for complaints about various disfunctional authorities.
Although law ensures free participation of citizens, excusatory exceptions prevent the full enjoyment of this right. In accordance with Article 50 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, everyone has the right to seek, obtain, transmit, prepare and impart any information one wishes. However, only registered journalists are allowed to participate in the open plenary sessions of the National Assembly. In addition to this, according to Article 96 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the right to initiate legislation in the National Assembly (the right to submit bills and other matters for consideration to the National Assembly of the Republic of Azerbaijan) belongs to deputies of the National Assembly, The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 40,000 citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan with the right to vote, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Although this article highlights the potential for citizens to submit legislative proposals by 40,000 votes, the lack of information on how to implement this initiative through the authorities will create gaps in the law. Only 10 years after the introduction of this provision in the Constitution, during its summer session of 2019, the Parliament passed the first reading of the draft law covering the rules of application of the right to legislative initiative. The passage and approval of the project from other readings did not take place until the present document was drafted.
This research paper was developed by the Human Rights Club, which incorporates public participation as a human right, from October 2018 to July 2019, taking into account the socioeconomic appeals and questions of citizens. The main purpose of the document is to develop classification of appeals from citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan during this period, to clarify the gaps in the legislation on these issues, to study the experience of the countries around the world on these issues and to add them to the list of reforms. By doing this, even a small group of individuals, who addresses the appeals, actually sees the gaps that affect any part of their lives, encourages sharing them with public, participates in social organizations, and explores proactive solutions. It also helps people realize that they have long been helping to fill the gaps in the writing and implementation of legislation.
The document consists of three main parts: 1) A set of addressed socioeconomic issues; 2) Classification of socioeconomic issues addressed (gaps and proposals in the legislation); 3) A set of recommendations to address these gaps.
You can find the full Paper in the attached file: