Summary Description of the Division of Powers Between Municipalities and State Local Executive Authorities , November 2002
On "Division of Powers between Municipalities and State Local Authorities" Book prepared by International Foundation for Election Systems
Powers of municipalities in the Azerbaijan Republic are regulated by the special Law of the Azerbaijan Republic "On Status of Municipalities". The amendments adopted at the Referendum of August 24, 2002 read: "Principles of the status of municipalities shall be regulated by the present Constitution, and regulations on municipal elections shall be determined by the Law".
Taking into account such an amendment, composition of municipal powers shall be scrutinized in two significant sources:
First, the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic with the amendments adopted August 24, 2002;
Second, The Azerbaijan Republic Law "On Status of Municipalities".
Nowadays, it is possible to clearly understand the complete picture of existing municipalities by taking into account the fact that Azerbaijan has been a party to the "Charter On Local Governance" of the Council of Europe (Strasburg, 1985) since December 2001, and that municipalities have attained a number of additional powers through legislation and relevant presidential decrees.
However, this is not all. The implicit strategy of the Azerbaijan Republic is to gradually delegate to municipalities political, economic and social authorities, which historically have been accumulated in hands of state local bodies, and the properties, financial resources and liabilities necessary to implement these powers and responsibilities.
Powers of the state local authorities are determined by the President of Azerbaijan in accordance with the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic. The Regulations approved by President Heydar Aliyev are still in legal force. All the state local authorities of the country act within the framework of powers provided for in these Regulations.
Although the responsibilities of both municipalities and state local bodies are clearly indicated in the Constitution, as well as in laws and decrees, most people still try to describe the issue as an unsolved problem.
Of course, people may have numerous grounds to view the matter, which is unclear to them, as a problem. We think, the major reason for this lack of clarity is the deficiency in in-depth study and understanding of the relevant documents discussed here.
So, there is still great demand commenting on and clarifying the essence and list of responsibilities of municipalities, which are a newly established structure in Azerbaijan and have some specific peculiarities, using simplified and easy-to-understand tables. This work continues to foster municipal education.
I consider it a duty and a privilege to emphasize the special attention, constructive help and care that IFES, being an international institution, has provided in respect to the process of establishing the municipal structure in Azerbaijan.
IFES and its Azerbaijan Office are the best assistants and benevolent advisors to the Permanent Commission on Regional Issues, which is the first of its kind in the history of the Parliament (Milli Majlis) of Azerbaijan. IFES has submitted useful comments on the most significant laws adopted since 1998, as well as on draft laws "On Status of Municipalities", "On Rules for Elections to Municipalities", "On Territories and Lands of Municipalities", "On Local Public Opinion Survey", etc, and provided great technical assistance. IFES activities in the area of municipal education should be particularly emphasized.
The book named "Legal Framework of Municipalities in the Azerbaijan Republic" published by IFES in cooperation with our Commission in 3000 copies and presented to all municipalities free of charge provides constructive help to development of the local democracy.
I appreciate the "Basic Description of the Division of Powers between Municipalities and Local Executive Authorities" book produced by the IFES staff as a valuable present to our citizens interested in municipal governance.
I hope, that these materials will be helpful in several aspects and they will:
1) Destroy the wrong opinions concerning the so-called "unclear division of powers" between municipalities and local executive authorities, and provide a true view of the matter;
2) Facilitate the resolution of issues concerning the priority of powers to be delegated to municipalities;
3) Assist in selecting optimal solutions for issues regarding reasonable regulation of the cooperation between municipalities and local executive authorities when drafting new laws.
Of course, the division of powers discussed in the book can be improved and a number of amendments made. However, we consider the book adequate as it is the first initiative of its kind and has brought the relationship between IFES and the commission closer. We have considered the fact, that the information in the book will be further improved when publishing new books from the "Municipal Library" series, which will be very helpful to strengthening municipal institutions in Azerbaijan. I express my gratitude to all those who did hard work and produced this book. I do believe that this nice initiative will be continued.