Features - A Guide to the Republic of Azerbaijan Law Research

Fakhri Akperov Gudrat (fakhryakperov@hotmail.com) is a Lecturer at the Azerbaijan University, the Department of International Law. He holds a Master’s degree on Public International Law (1999).  He is enrolled in the second year of the postgraduate program (aspirantura) at the Institute of Philosophy and Law of the National Academy of Sciences.


Table of Contents

The Basic Structure of the Azerbijan Legislative System
Sources of Law
Case Law
Government Structure
Official Government Websites
The Legislative Power
The Judicial Power
The Constitutional Court
The Supreme Court
The Economic Court
Administrative Divisions
Municipalities
Main Principles of International Relations
Membership in International Organizations
Official Texts of Law Acts
Law Journals
Internet Sources on Law and Legal Regulations
Main Law Faculties
 

The Basic Structure of the Azerbaijan Legislative System

The Republic of Azerbaijan was created on May 28, 1918. As a result of the intervention of the 11th Red Army, Azerbaijan lost its independence in April 1920 and in December 1922 became a part of the former USSR. Azerbaijan re-established its independence with The Constitutional Act on Restoration of the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan on October 18, 1991.

The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan was prepared by the Commission for Draft Preparation of the New Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic. The Chair of the Commission was Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Azerbaijan Republic. The Constitution was adopted on November 12, 1995 by the Referendum of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Constitution http://www.president.az/azerbaijan/const.htm entered into force on November 27, 1995.

The Constitution of Azerbaijan Republic has the highest legal force in the territory of Azerbaijan and acts directly. The Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic is the basic foundation of the Legislative system in the Republic. The Constitution created the system of presidential republic with a separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The Constitution provides an adequate legal basis for the domestic implementation of International Law in general and International Human Rights Law in particular. The International Treaties to which Azerbaijan is a Party, are recognized as an constituent part of the internal legal system (Art. 148(II)) and given a higher hierarchical status in the case of a conflict with a national law (Art. 151). While expressly stipulating that an international treaty may not contravene the Constitution and laws adopted by referendum (Art. 151), see also Art. 130(III(6)), The Constitution at the same time implicitly, as a lex specialis rule, provides for the primacy of international human rights over the appropriate constitutional provisions (Art. 12). Thus Art. 12(II) of the Constitutions empowers domestic courts to apply International Human Rights treaties to which Azerbaijan is party. This is a very progressive statement which needs to be corroborated and developed by the judicial practice, particularly by the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and a series of laws passed in the second half of the 1990s reflect the aspiration to institute in Azerbaijan a democratic system of government and establish its formal mechanisms and institutions. More than 700 legislative acts have been adopted since 1991. These new legal acts created the basis for a pluralistic political system, provided for an independent mass media, established a framework for foreign investments, proclaimed private ownership. Having established this fundamental legal framework, Azerbaijan went on to further define and develop its legal system.

Legislation passed during the second period included the Civil Procedure and the Civil Code - the economic constitution or the commercial code that replaced the old Soviet Code adopted in 1964. Other key legislation included codes on Administrative Violations, Labor, Land, Customs, Tax, Family and Crime and Criminal Procedure Code. Old Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic was enacted in 1960, and based on the principles of Soviet criminal law.

The new Criminal Code of Azerbaijan adopted by the Parliament on September 30, 1999 and came into force September 1, 2000. The Code begins stating that "The Criminal legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan consists of this Code. New laws defining criminal responsibility are subject to inclusion in this Code" (Art. 1). As we may know in many countries criminal codes are not the exclusive source of criminal law. In addition, various fields of legislation outside the codes also contain criminal law norms establishing responsibility. Such an approach proposed during the preparatory work on the new Code because it makes it easier for lawmakers to change criminal legislation without disturbing the structure of the code. However, it seems that in this instance, the preservation of national traditions with respect to the exhaustive incorporation of criminal law norms within the framework of the Criminal Code was very important. It should promote the practical application of criminal legislation and thereby should contribute to a fuller implementation of the rule of law. Article 1 of the Criminal Code also provides that "the Code is based on the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic and generally accepted principles and norms of international law."

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Sources of Law

On the base of Article 148(I) of the Constitution legislative system of the Republic of Azerbaijan consist of the following normative-legal Acts:

  • The Constitution

  • Acts adopted via referendum

  • Laws

  • Decrees

  • Resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan

  • Normative Acts of central executive bodies: International Treaties, of which the Azerbaijan is a party, are constituent part of the Legislative system of the Azerbaijan Republic

  • Local Executive bodies within their competence can take decisions and instructions of the normative character, other Acts, which do not contradict Acts included in the Legislation system.
     

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Case Law

The main difference in comparison with the Anglo-American system is that the Azerbaijan legal system is determined by statute but in the Anglo-American system case law or judge–made law play an important role as a source of law. Generally in Azerbaijan Republic decisions of the courts are not determined as a source of law.  Decisions of the Constitutional Court (http://www.constitutional-court-az.org/decisions.htm; http://www.e-gate.net/az_constitutional_court_decisions.htm) are the exception. The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan in its decisions gives official interpretation of the Constitution and the Laws of the Azerbaijan Republic…Art. 130(IV). Thus, by this way decisions of The Constitutional Court create new rule or norm which is binding in the whole territory of the Azerbaijan Republic, although other courts only applying existing law and referring appropriate decisions of the Constitutional Court. At this point decisions of the Constitutional Court may be considered as a additional source of law.

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Government Structure

Azerbaijan is a centralized country ruled by a presidential system. The system of government administration of Azerbaijan is based on the principles of separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches (Art. 7 of the Constitution).

The head of state is the President. The executive power is vested in the President. The President is elected for a 5 year term by direct elections. As the result of a last general presidential elections held on October 11, 1998, Heydar Aliyev was elected the President of the Azerbaijan Republic http://www.president.az/president.htm. With the aim of implementing executive power, the President of the Azerbaijan Republic is authorized to form the Cabinet of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Republic which is the supreme body of the executive power of the President. The Cabinet of Ministers http://www.president.az/office/cabmin.htm is subordinate to the president, and its aim is the implementation of the President's policies and duties. In order to achieve this goal, the Cabinet of Ministers ensures the implementation of the state budget, monetary policy and the state social programs. The Cabinet of Minister consist of the Prime Minister of the Azerbaijan Republic, his Deputies, Ministers and Heads of other central bodies of Executive power.

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Official Government Websites

Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan: http://edu.gov.az/

Ministry of Youth and Sport: http://www.mys.azeri.com/

Ministry of Culture: http://www.culture.az/

State Student Admission Commission:  http://www.tqdk-az.org

Ministry of  Internal Affairs: http://www.mia.gov.az/

Ministry of Communication http://www.azerin.com/members/rabite http://www.azmincom.com/

Information & Computer Center of Ministry of Communication: http://www.azrabita.net/

Ministry of Health:  http://www.medis.az/; http://www.azmedstat.azeri.com

Ministry of Taxes:  http://taxes.gov.az; http://www.az-taxinspectorate.net/

The Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan http://cec.gov.az/

State Statistical Committee:  http://www.statcom.baku-az.com/

State Customs Committee:  http://www.az-customs.net/

State Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing People http://human.gov.az/

Chamber of Commerce and Industry present of Azerbaijan Republic:  http://www.exhibition.azeri.com/

State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan:  http://www.socar-cc.com/

State Information agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan http://www.azertag.com/

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The Legislative Power

The legislative power is vested in The National Parliament (Milli Mejlis) of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is an unicameral body consisting of 125 members, of whom 100 are elected on the basis of majority in local elections. An additional number of 25 is included on the basis of proportional electoral system from national party lists for 5 years term.

Parliamentary elections are to be held every five years, on the first Sunday of November. The latest elections to Milli Mejlis were held on November 5, 2000. Majority votes were gained by the party "Yeni Azerbaijan" ("New Azerbaijan"). Every citizen of the Azerbaijan Republic who has reached the age of 25 can be elected a Deputy member of the Milli Mejlis of the Azerbaijan Republic in the order determined by the Law. The correctness of the results of the elections shall be checked and confirmed by the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The laws and resolutions enacted by the Parliament come into effect from the day of their publication unless specified otherwise in the legislation. The President does not have the right to dissolve the parliament, but he does have the right to veto its decisions. To override the presidential veto, the Milli Mejlis must have a majority of 95 votes.

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The Judicial Power

The judicial power is vested in independent courts of Azerbaijan: Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and High Economic Court (The President, subject to approval by the  parliament, nominates the judges in these three courts), general and specialized courts of the Azerbaijan Republic http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/azerbaijan.html. The judicial power is exercised via constitutional, civil, administrative and criminal legal proceedings and in other forms specified by the Law.

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The Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic (http://www.constitutional-court-az.org/), the first body of the judicial constitutional control in the history of Azerbaijan - was constituted on July 14, 1998.  The issue of establishment of the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic was finally solved after acceptance of the new Constitution on November 12, 1995 and since 1998 the Constitutional Court has been carrying its activity.The  Constitutional Court consists of nine judges and is authorised to review the following: constitutionality of the laws of the  republic; presidential decrees; regulations of the central government authorities; signatures on treaties; the settlement of disputes connected to the division of power between the legislative  and executive branches. In addition, the Constitutional Court decides on issues affecting the banning of political parties or other organisations. The Constitutional Court is also authorised to interpret the Constitution and the laws of the Azerbaijan Republic at the request of the President, the Milli Mejlis, the Cabinet of Ministers, General Prosecutor's Office of the Azerbaijan Republic and the Ali Mejlis (Supreme Parliament) of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.

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The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the Azerbaijan Republic (http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/azerbaijan.html) is the highest judicial body in civil, criminal,  administrative and other cases that are referred to it by the general courts.  Moreover, it exercises control over the activity of the general courts.  Judges of the  Supreme Court of the Azerbaijan Republic are nominated by the President and approved by the Milli Mejlis.

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The Economic Court

The Economic Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the highest legal body deciding economic disputes. Judges to the Economic Court are appointed in the similar manner to the other high courts.

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Administrative Divisions

The legislative power is vested in The National Parliament (Milli Mejlis) of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is an unicameral body consisting of 125 members, of whom 100 are elected on the basis of majority in local elections. An additional number of 25 is included on the basis of proportional electoral system from national party lists for 5 years term.

Parliamentary elections are to be held every five years, on the first Sunday of November. The latest elections to Milli Mejlis were held on November 5, 2000. Majority votes were gained by the party "Yeni Azerbaijan" ("New Azerbaijan"). Every citizen of the Azerbaijan Republic who has reached the age of 25 can be elected a Deputy member of the Milli Mejlis of the Azerbaijan Republic in the order determined by the Law. The correctness of the results of the elections shall be checked and confirmed by the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The Republic of Azerbaijan is divided into 76 administrative districts (65 rural rayon and 11 cities), and the President appoints the governors of these units. Local Executive power in these administrative districts is implemented by the Heads of the Local Executive power. Heads of Executive power is appointed and removed from holding positions by the President of the Azerbaijan Republic.

Towns in Azerbaijan that have the formal status of cities of the Republic are Baku, Ganja, Sumgait, Ali-Bayramli, Lenkoran, Mingechevir, Naftalan, Khankendi, Sheki, Kuba and Shusha. The local governments of regions and cities, such as Khankendi and Shusha, which are under Armenian occupation,
http://scf.usc.edu/~baguirov/azeri/svante_cornell.html; http://www.baku-vision.com/karabakh.html, continue to function in exile, and schools and assistance to refugees is organised on the basis of their city or region.

Within the Republic of Azerbaijan, Nakhichevan is an autonomous republic,
http://www.president.az/azerbaijan/nar/index.htm-Naxchivan, and consists of six districts: Ordubad, Julfa, Shahbuz, Babek, Sharur, and Sadarak. Nakhichevan has its own Parliament, as well as Cabinet of Ministers and Supreme Court, and the Chairperson of Nakhichevan's Parliament serves as the highest official of the Autonomous Republic. The Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic and its laws are all valid in Nakhichevan, and laws and resolutions enacted there may not contravene the state laws and resolutions.
 

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Municipalities

Local administration officials are elected in direct elections. The first municipal elections in Azerbaijan were held in December 1999. The municipal government is authorised to impose local taxes and payments, approve a local budget, implement local programs of social security and economic development. The relationship and the division of powers and responsibilities between the appointed governors and the locally elected councils is still unclear and undergoing a process of further resolve.
 

Main Principles of International Relations

The Azerbaijan Republic forms its relations with other States on the basis of generally accepted norms and principles international law (Article 10 of the Constitution).  Art. 10 may be interpreted as relating only to international relations and aimed of establishing priority of the dictates of general International Law over political considerations of foreign policy, though this Article could serve as a basis for the parliamentary and constitutional control over the executive power.

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Membership in International Organizations

Azerbaijan is a member of 32 International and regional organisations http://www.president.az/azerbaijan/az2.htm: UN (March 1992), Council of Europe (March 2001), CSCE (January 1992), CIS (September 1993), Organisation of Islamic Conference (1992), Council of Europe (status of special observer, June 1996), European Union (Agreement on partnership and co-operation, 1996), OEC (Organisation of Economic Co-operation, 1992), Organisation of Black Sea Economic Co-operation (1992), European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (1992), World Bank (1992), UNESCO, UNICEF, World Health Organisation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRCRC), Interpol, the International Olympic Committee, etc. Conceptual basis of Foreign policy of Azerbaijan aims to preserve and strengthen national independence and territorial integrity, develop equal mutually beneficiary relations, establish friendly links with all countries of the world.

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Official Texts of Law Acts

The Law and the Resolutions of the Milli Mejlis (National Assembly), Decrees and Orders of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan come into force from the day of publication if the adopted legal act itself does not specify a different rule. (Articles 98 and 113 of the Constitution).
If a different order is not envisaged in Decrees and Orders of the Cabinet of Ministers they come into force after the day of there publication. (Article 120  of the Constitution)

  • All these legal acts are published in the newspaper “Azerbaijan” (http://www.azerbaijan.news.az); (E-mail: azerbaijan_newspaper@azdata.net) which is the official body of the National Assembly.  In addition some branches of the government have its own official newspaper or journal.
  • “Azerbaycan Respublikasinin Qanunvericilik Toplusu” (Collection of Legislative Acts of the Republic of Azerbaijan) - (monthly official publication of the President of Azerbaijan, in Azeri) Istiglaliyyat str. 19, Baku-370066, tel: (+99412) 92 33 26
  • “Ganunchuluq” (The Rule of Law) – (publishing legal acts, court decisions) official publication of the Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and General Prosecutor’s office, in Azeri, Baku-370102, Inshaatchilar avenue N1, tel: (+99 412 30 09 72; 98 59 31).

The collected texts of the legislation are also available in private editions:

  • “Collection of Codes of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, “Collection of Law Acts of the Republic of Azerbaijan” in 5 Volumes – (in Azeri) Qanun press, E-mail: ms@azdata.net; qanun@rambler.run.

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Law Journals

  • Qanun (The Law) - public-political, scientific law journal, in Azeri, E-mail: ms@azdata.net; qanun@rambler.ru.
  • Legal State and Law – public-scientific law journal, in Azeri, E-mail: urlit@azerin.com.
  • Advokat (The Advocate) – scientific-practical law journal, in Azeri, E-mail: lex@leks.baku.com.
  • International Law – public-political, scientific-practical law journal, in Azeri, with English summaries: Tel/Fax (+99 412-94 26 65)

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Internet Sources on Law and Legal Regulations

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The collected texts of the legislation are also available in private editions:

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Main Law Faculties

  • Azerbaijan University Faculties: <ssx@azun.baku.az> (Law; International Relations; Economics and Management; English Language; English Language Gymnasium (Secondary School), Vocational Secondary School, Humanitarian College Address: 84 Mirali Gashgay Street, 7th Micro-District, 370110 phone: Tel: 40-16-31, 40-33-25, 93-77-68; Fax: 93-77-73.
  • Baku State University Faculties: <http://bsu.in-baku.com/> (Law; International Law; mechanical engineering; mathematics; geology; biology; geography; chemistry; applied mathematics; physics; history), 23 Khalilov Street, 370073;  phone: Tel: 39-05-35, 39-08-58, Fax: 98-30-76.
  • Khazar University Faculties: <http://www.khazar.org/> (Training in natural sciences, humanitarian sciences, law, medicine, and economics), 11 Mahsati Street, 370096 phone: Tel: 21-79-27, 21-12-36, 21-10-93Fax: 98-93-79.
  • Western University Faculties: <http://www.wu.aznet.org/> (Social and political management; international law, business management; English language college; international politics and economics, bank management), 27 Istiqlaliyyat Street, 370010; phone: Tel: 92-74-18, 92-77-81, 92-61-63 Fax: 92-67-01.

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