Azerbaijani Think Tanks and Civil Society Network

On June 2, 2020, the regular meeting with participation of the founding members of the Azerbaijan Think Tanks and Civil Society Network was held. Due to obvious reasons, this time the meeting was held through an online platform.
The online meeting was organized by one of the founders of the Network – Ramil Iskandarli, chairman of the Legal Analysis and Research Public Union. The main purpose of the meeting The main purpose of the meeting was to get acquainted with the current situation with children’s rights in the country, reforms in this area, shortcomings in the field and prospects for cooperation of civil society institutions with government agencies to address them, the social impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on children, to discuss the work done by member NGOs, child justice issues and an alternative report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and other issues were.
One of the founders of the Network, Head of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) Aydin Safikhanli provided detailed information on protection and promotion of the children’s rights by the Ombudsman Institution including a series of awareness-raising activities related to the children’s rights, on visits and monitoring of childcare facilities, pre-trial detention facilities and temporary detention facilities, highlighted the work done by the Ombudsman to further increase attention to the protection of children’s rights in the context of a special quarantine regime applied to prevent the spread of a new type of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and to strengthen the fight against it and answered questions from participants.

The event was attended by the following founding experts of the Network who spoke on the topic:
– Aydin Safikhanli – Head of Office, the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman)
– Ramil Iskandarli – Chairman, Legal Analysis and Research Public Union
– Elmari Mamishov – Deputy Chairman, Legal Analysis and Research Public Union
– Ramil Mammadli – Military-political analyst
– Ismayil Karimov – Research expert
– Avaz Hasanov – Chairman, Humanitarian Research Public Union
– Kamala Ashumova – Director, Reliable Future Youth Organization
– Fariz Akbarov – Lawyer, Child rights expert
– Mehriban Zeynalova – Head, “Pure World” organization
At the meeting, the participants agreed to hold meetings and consultations with relevant government agencies and the Ombudsman’s Office to address the issues of children’s rights.

Azerbaijani Think Tanks and Civil Society Networ had been officilly established in February 27, 2019 in Baku, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding among experts and researchers.
Ramil Iskandarli, chairman of the Legal Analysis and Research Public Union, initiator of the Azerbaijani Think Tanks and Civil Society Network (ATTCSN) stated in the opening speech that, the idea of establishing the ATTCSN came from the event organized for the civil society organizations on “Why Think Tanks Matter?” and held on January 31, 2019 that was held under the umbrella of the Global Think Tanks and Civil Society Program of the University of Pennsylvania.
He said that the main aim of ATTCSN is mobilizing capacity of organizations and individual professionals, researchers operating in various spheres of public-political relations in Azerbaijan to support implementation of public policy by means of analytical and research work focused on the country’s development in different areas.

Main speaker of the event, Ismail Karimov, research expert, member of ATTCSN, made a presentation on “The importance of think tanks in decision-making in Azerbaijan”. He shared his thoughts on the benefits of think tanks in public policy, the problems of research tradition in Azerbaijan and the main directions for the development of think tanks.
According to Ismayil Karimov, the following shortcomings are existing in research business in Azerbaijan:

Many of the researches in Azerbaijan do not describe causes-results relations and has mainly descriptive character.
The Causes-results relations in studied social problems has an intuitive character and has no strong qualitative researches behind.
The institute of higher education gives only knowledge without skills and there are no almost serious research centers/institutes
There is no diversity and effective approaches in researches and lack of training for young researchers/students on the issue of research methodologies.
Fakhraddin Hasanzadeh, executive director of the Youth Education Center, said that presently, there is uncertainty about trainers in the NGO sector and those who do not qualify as experts in the respective areas are acting as trainers and researchers. He also considered the importance of initiative to launch this network in this regard. He suggested to cooperate with the State Youth foundation on the issue of trainings for young researchers.
Avaz Hasanov, director of the Humanitarian Research Society, said that there is a need for increasing knowledge in this sphere and formation of new specialists and, the most important, there is need for the products of the professionals specialized in the sphere of think tanks in strategic planning of the government. Network can play a role of coordinating body for presenting the products of professional researchers to those in need.

Elmari Mammishov, lawyer, deputy chair the Legal Analysis and Research Public Union, spoke about importance of advocacy for expansion of the Network’s areas of activity. In his view, the Network should take the necessary steps for promotion of the works produced by the individuals specialized in this field.
Subhan Talibli, historian-scientist, noted that it is necessary for the Network to cooperate with academic institutions and foreign experts. He suggested to initiate and joint researches on different issues with the involvement of well-known foreign experts and produce a joint product to the present to the wider society.

Khamala Ashimova, director of the Reliable Future Youth Organization, said that the Network can play a key role in promotion of those who specialize in this fieldand their products, which will results in increase of the human resource potential in Azerbaijan in solving particular problems in practice.

Ramil Mammadov, a military-political analyst and member of the Network, expressed his confidence that the Network will play a platform for those who specialize in this field though launching the database of professional and their researches. According to him, the network will be able to cover a larger audience in upcoming future.

Then a memorandum on the establishment of the Think Tanks and Civil Society Network was signed by the founders of the ATTCSN. The memorandum was signed by more than 10 civil society members specialized in this field.

According to the memorandum, the Network will set its activity based on the analysis of the situation with law, defense, security, economy, education, energy, environment, foreign policy, international relations, health care, science and technology, society, media, transparency and management, humanitarian, youth, food and water security, analytic materials on conflict resolution, lobbying and diaspora, historical researches, and national statehood policy.

It was decided to periodically organize meetings between experts, create an online database of researchers and experts, support formation of young professionals through training, to organize events with Guest speakers – well known analytical experts, conduct thematic meetings of the Network members with relevant state institutions, to carry out joint analysis and forecasts on the issues of public interest.
In order to provide technical and organizational support to the Think Tanks and Civil Society Network, the Secretariat function will be implemented by the Legal Analysis and Research Public Union.