ISAR/AZERBAIJAN:
INITIATIVE FOR SOCIAL ACTION AND RENEWAL IN EURASIA

THIRD SECTOR NEWS
INFORMATION BULLETIN
News and Information on Third Sector Development in Azerbaijan
DECEMBER 1999
No 22

INCLUDED IN THIS ISSUE:

NGO ACTIVITY

NGO ARTICLES

INTERNATIONAL NGO ARTICLE

REGIONAL NGOs

CHILDREN’S PAGE

ISAR NEWS

ANNOUNCEMENTS

ISAR PROGRAMS

ISAR/Azerbaijan is pleased to announce the beginning of a Large Grant Program of up to $10,000 for NGOs. This grant program is focused on supporting projects in social, educational and environmental spheres as well as projects focused on NGO development. For details please contact the Grant Program at ISAR. Tel: 95-25-57, 95-30-37. The Deadline for application submission is 21 January 2000.

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ISAR/Azerbaijan is pleased to announce the beginning of a Travel Grant Program for NGO representatives. Through this program, local NGO representatives working on social and environmental issues can receive support for travel to conferences, seminars and training in other CIS countries or Europe.

Applications for this program are due the second Wednesday of each month for travel that begins sometime during the next 3 calendar months.

The program officially begins in January 2000. The deadline for applications in January is 12 January 2000. For additional information please contact the ISAR/Azerbaijan Grant Program.

ISAR-Azerbaijan Heading into 2000

Here at ISAR, we are impressed by the work carried out by the local NGO community in 1999 and would like to see this community become increasingly prominent in Azerbaijan in the year 2000. This hope is reflected in ISAR’s organizational mission, which is to promote citizen participation and the development of the non-governmental (NGO) sector in the countries of the former Soviet Union through supporting citizen activists and grassroots NGOs in their efforts to create just and sustainable societies. ISAR’s work in Azerbaijan over the past 4 years has focused on NGO sector development at the grassroots level. We have urged citizens to become involved in solving the social and environmental problems that surround them and we have supported their efforts to organize and make a positive impact. A number of organizations have emerged since we began our activities here addressing a wide range of spheres from health to children to human rights to the environment, to name just a few. Some organizations have been able to overcome the tremendous struggles involved with continued existence and others have not. However, throughout the years, local NGO activity in Azerbaijan has steadily increased and the sector is growing in both size and strength. At ISAR, we are excited that in the past year a number of mid-level NGOs have emerged which have true potential to continue for years into the future.

ISAR-Azerbaijan has had an eventful year during 1999. Our activities have expanded to provide support both to the emerging mid-level organizations as well as the more recently established groups. These activities include increased information, training and grant programming reaching an ever-larger number of local NGO representatives. In addition, this year we began a structured program to work in the regions of Azerbaijan in an effort to increase NGO activity outside of Baku.

ISAR’s regional program was initiated in April 1999 with an assessment of the NGO sector beyond Baku. Since that time, the ISAR regional program coordinator has worked actively in Ganja, Sheki and Hachmaz, holding monthly information sessions, disseminating the ISAR monthly information bulletin, coordinating management training courses for regional NGOs with ISAR trainers, consulting with organizations interested in applying for ISAR’s grant program, and providing information on educational and grant opportunities. The regional coordinator has received a positive response from the existing organizations in the regions and a number of new groups have been created and begun activity since ISAR began working regularly in these cities. Beginning in November 1999, ISAR expanded its regional activity to include Mingechevir as well.

ISAR’s training program has increased the number of 40-hour Fundamental Management courses offered in Baku in both Russian and Azeri. In cooperation with the ISAR Regional Program, the training team has also begun training outside of Baku at least one time a month. In addition, four new advanced level training topics have been developed and began to be offered in fall 1999. The training team also initiated Organizational Development Consulting in the fall to assist mid level organizations in solving internal structural issues.

The ISAR Grant Program continues to offer small grants of $2000-$4000 to social and environmental organizations in Azerbaijan. In fall 1999, a large grant program of up to $10,000 was announced for social and environmental groups as well as for organizations focused on human rights education and NGO development. In December 1999, travel grants for NGO representatives will become part of the Grant Program portfolio.

Finally, the ISAR Information Program has grown dramatically over the year. Besides issuing Third Sector News on a monthly basis in Azeri, Russian and English, a quarterly local NGO directory is produced and distributed in Azeri and English. The ISAR Resource Center currently has 10 computers available for local NGO representatives to use and we hope that by February 2000 these computers will all have email and Internet access. Monthly Information Sessions are held for local NGO representatives with speakers from the international and local communities. In addition, monthly sectoral meetings are held with children’s, health and environmental groups to provide a forum for these organizations to share information and coordinate their activity. Monthly meetings are also held with representatives from NGOs and the mass media to assist organizations in promoting their activity and having it publicized to the larger public.

All of ISAR’s programs will continue to expand during 2000 and efforts will be increased to assist NGOs in being recognized and understood by the population, the business community and the government. The NGO sector has grown over the past few years and it is hoped that this growth and development will continue. ISAR’s goal is to assist in the development of strong NGOs, which can become a dynamic force in society and are a step to creating a lasting civil society in Azerbaijan. We look forward to the opportunities for the local NGO community in Azerbaijan in the year 2000 and wish all NGOs the best of luck with their work in the New Year.

Kim Perlow
ISAR/Azerbaijan

Cooperation Among NGOs and Businesses - Today and Tomorrow

At present, Azerbaijan’s NGOs raise over 90% of their funding through grants provided by international organizations. Businesses provide very little funding to NGOs in Azerbaijan. The situation is contrary to that in developed countries where almost all enterprises direct a part of their profit to charitable activities. For companies in developed countries, it is no problem to select a charitable organization to support, as various reference books and other information on NGOs and their location are available.

Why then are our NGOs not able to gain financial support from businesses? We think there are several reasons for this. Let’s try to analyze why this is happening and how, and ways to overcome this problem.

First of all, there is a lack of support on the part of the government. Until recently, anything called a “non-governmental organization” was seen as an opposition group and this is just beginning to change. A large number of organizations are not politicized, are trying to improve the social conditions around them and should be seen by the government as a benefit rather than as a threat. It is also important to note that the same mistrust that keeps the government from supporting NGOs often also causes NGOs to ignore the government sector.

Businesses are very dependent on government agencies, and this affects their attitude towards NGOs considerably. Sometimes after gaining the support of state bodies, NGOs begin to attract support from businesses. The business sector also mistrusts NGOs, as it is natural for anyone who donates money to a charitable cause to want to know exactly how the donated money is being used. Failure on the part of the NGOs to provide detailed reports often triggers serious problems. This mistrust can be exacerbated by the NGOs’ lack of professionalism in marketing and relations with the press.

Other reasons for limited commercial support include a lack of knowledge and skills in seeking financial resources, organizing presentations, etc. Without presenting your organization professionally, it is difficult to gain the trust of the public, the government or the business sector.

The ball is now in the hands of the NGOs themselves. Transparency, willingness to cooperate with other sectors and each other, and skills in creating a positive image will bring NGOs and business entities closer together. We hope business entities will make an important contribution in the near future to the solution of the social problems our society is currently facing.

Enver Safarzadeh
ISAR/Azerbaijan

LOCAL NGO ACTIVITY

Ruzigar and Georgian Environmental NGOs Carryout Joint Project

Among the projects supported by the ISAR/Azerbaijan and Horizonti (Georgia) joint Grant Program is a project entitled, “Environmental Inventory of Contamination Sources on Western Oil Pipeline Routes”, implemented by the Azerbaijani Ecological Society Ruzigar and the Georgian Association of Biological and Ecological Monitoring. The two Transcaucasian republics decided to carry out a cooperative project in an effort to work together in exploring and monitoring the environmental situation in the territory through which the oil pipelines run. The project aimed both to improve public control over the environment in areas where the Western Route Pipelines operate and to increase awareness among the population to the environmental impact of these oil pipelines.

As part of the project, experts carried out an independent evaluation of discharge sources on the Western Pipeline. The experts were successful in determining the quantity of contamination and discharges, their sources, and their location. They also developed methods of gas sampling, including nitric, sulfur, carbon oxides, hydrocarbons, and analyzed and inspected the locality. The experts further identified the most probable locations for accidents to occur. The team prepared a final report based on all the data collected. This report was made available to the general population, state environmental protection agencies, scientific research centers, the mass media, and oil companies.

The two implementing organizations also held meetings with teachers, media representatives, police and fire-prevention officials, physicians, and government representatives in Hajigabul, Kurdamir, Ujar, Yevlakh and Shamkir to discuss the economic, technical and environmental aspects of oil transportation. Out of these meetings came the suggestion that public environmental centers be established to protect oil pipelines in Hajigabul and Ganja. The media requested the results of these studies and discussions.

By working together, the Ruzigar Ecological Society and the Georgian Association of Ecological and Biological Monitoring successfully carried out the project, sharing their respective experience in environmental inventory and environmental education, and thus established a basis for future cooperation.

Emin Husseinzadeh
ISAR/Azerbaijan

LOCAL NGO ARTICLES

Struggling for Progress in Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijan Progress Foundation was established on 24 September, 1999. The founding members met in the Human Rights Resource Center, approved the charter and emblem of the organization, and elected its leading bodies and members of the auditing commission. Jeyhun Bayramov was elected as chairman of the Foundation.

The key objective of Progress is to build a democratic state in Azerbaijan by encouraging relationships and cooperation between governmental and non-governmental entities in all areas of public life. The Foundation is interested in resolving problems in science, education, culture, ecology, protection of human rights, and the study of social and psychological problems.

The directors of Progress are now working to register the Foundation with the Ministry of Justice of the Azerbaijan Republic and to receive approval for the organization as a legal entity. The organization has already established ties with some international organizations and has discussed prospects of collaboration. For more information please contact Progress at: (850) 317 10 06, or e-mail: progressfoundation@yahoo.com or progressfoundation@hotmail.com

Maarif Ibadov,
member of the Progress
Foundation of Azerbaijan

Ecotourism – a New Way of Thinking About the Environment

Traditional methods of raising and educating children teach them to communicate with other people and function in society, but do not address the relationship between people and nature. As a person’s relationship with nature is no less important than relationships among people, new methods and approaches are required to help young people adopt the rudiments of such relations.

In December 1998, a group of environmental enthusiasts and nature-lovers decided to unite and established the Pilgrim ecotourist initiative group to teach young people a new outlook on the environment and attract them to environmental protection activities through ecotourism.

Ecotourism means tourism that consumes no resources. Ecotourism includes mountain tours, observation, research, plant and animal photography, visits to reserves and cultural and historical places of interest, and arrangements to protect nature from destruction.

In February-May 1999, Pilgrim carried out its first project, entitled Soyug Bulag, with support from ISAR/Azerbaijan. This program was carried out in eco-camps for teenagers and youngsters from at-risk families. The multi-faceted program took place in the reserves of the Shamakhi region and the Yalama seashore. The group held educational seminars to give attendees practical and theoretical knowledge in ecology, tourism and nature protection. During the course of the project, the young participants, including local residents, were actively involved in cleaning recreation areas, river banks, and springs and in identifying areas in the Pirkuli preserve damaged by extensive felling of trees or contamination. The young ecotourists also posted signs calling for environmental protection in local tourist and recreation areas.

While restoring and equipping the neglected spring near Khydyrzinde Pir, which means “holy place”, near the sacred Besh Barmag mountain, program participants were able to involve religious pilgrims in the restoration activity. Local clergy thanked and blessed the participants.

While participating in interesting trips around the foothills of the East Caucasus, young men and women improved their health and spirit and came into contact with the beauty and grandeur of their native land. All of them took part in contests and ecological debates. The result of the first Soyug Bulag project was a group of ecotourism activists, prepared to carry out environmental protection measures and exchange their views with the local people.

The Soyug Bulag project has attracted new participants who are interested in the ideas of ecotourism and in the opportunity to spend their leisure time outdoors, thus serving their own interests as well as that of society as a whole.

Parents of the young ecotourists have thanked ISAR/Azerbaijan for educating their children through a combination of recreation and useful outdoor activities. The program has increased the children’s confidence and independence, and has led them to prefer to spend their free time outdoors close to nature, rather than in the cities.

Naturally, Pilgrim’s goals are not confined to one project, as creating a youth ecotourism movement will require a long-term effort. Pilgrim activists have therefore decided to establish a permanent nature school in Azerbaijan to attract even more youngsters. This school will, among other things, organize eco-tourist hikes during holidays in cooperation with local young people from rural areas and other local and Caucasus region youth NGOs.

Yana Jacobson
Pilgrim NGO

INTERNATIONAL NGO ARTICLE

Open Society Institute/Azerbaijan's East-East Program

Since OSI-Azerbaijan introduced the East-East program in early 1997, it has become one of the foundation’s most active programs. Since East-East began in Azerbaijan, 134 individuals have been offered an opportunity to travel to various conferences, workshops, training programs and roundtable discussions throughout the region. The East-East project allows Azerbaijanis to learn more about post-totalitarian transformation in the republics of former Soviet Union and to gain experience in their respective areas of study. The many opportunities within the East-East network are widely advertised in local newspapers and all grants are awarded on the basis of open competitions.

The strength of the program is that it promotes exchange of experience in such fields as science, human rights, mass media and ecology. In addition, participants have pointed to the significance of the program is overcoming informational and cultural gaps between the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. Some of participants share their experience in local newspapers, where they write about the necessity of establishing long-term cooperative relationships between countries to develop solutions to the problems of transition.

The countries involved in the East-East Program have different levels of development, and each country has its own specific needs. However, they also have similar problems. The East-East Programs helps to develop common resolutions to complex problems through courses, workshops and meetings. The program plays a special role in NGO sector development. OSI/Azerbaijan supports participation of NGO representatives in a broad array of projects within the network so they can apply newly acquired practices in their own organization.

More and more people are becoming aware of the unique opportunities offered by the East-East program. We have become more actively involved in the East-East network, beginning with our first hosting project in November 1998. Environmental issues are of great importance for us, since our country has been involved in a number of oil contracts. With this in mind, OSI/Azerbaijan hosted an international workshop “The Ecological Problems of the Caspian Sea and Ecological Education by Caspian Countries”, from November 18-20, 1999, as part of the East-East program. Organized as the second part of a joint Azerbaijan-Kazakhstan project on Caspian Basin ecology, the workshop gathered environmentalists from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova. The workshop brought the problems of Caspian Sea ecology, ecological education and “ecological refugees” to the attention of the general public and governmental organizations. The participants adopted a resolution to establish an international Caspian Sea protection movement and to seek passage of the resolution in the other Caspian countries, Iran and Turkmenistan.

OSI/Azerbaijan board member, Farda Asadov accurately summarized the importance of the East-East program: “ all Post-totalitarian countries face very similar problems. First and foremost, these problems relate to the transformation of totalitarian societies into developed ones that observe human rights, provide equal economic freedoms and allow free exchange of information in order to promote economic and social development. The East-East program makes it possible to define particularities of a single country undergoing post-totalitarian transformation as well as the common problems of the whole region”.

Gulnura Mehdi
OSI East-East Coordinator

REGIONAL NGOs

Cooperation Among Regional NGOs and the Mass Media

On November 19, ISAR/Azerbaijan organized a meeting in Ganja for representatives of NGOs and journalists. This meeting was attended by leaders of 10 active NGOs and initiative groups from Ganja, as well as media representatives, including the independent TV companies, Azerbaijan News Service (ANS) and Space TV, and local newspapers Ganjanin sasi (“Voice of Ganja”) and Ecolozhi Hyatt (“Ecological Life”). A group of journalism students from Azerbaijan International University’s Ganja affiliate also attended the meeting.

The meeting provided information on the ISAR/Azerbaijan Grant, Training, Information and Regional Programs, as well as the Resource Center. Through the meeting the journalists present became familiar with the work of the local Ganja NGOs and their plans for the near future.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants exchanged views on the possibilities for future contact between representatives of the NGO sector and the press. The roundtable participants agreed that there is a need to develop ties and contacts among NGOs and the mass media, and noted that this meeting was a positive first step in this direction.

A similar meeting held in Sheki in October was attended by 13 NGOs and initiative groups as well as representatives of the mass media including the ANS TV, Veteran Newspaper, Zaman, and Sheki City Radio. For many journalists, the Sheki meeting was the first time they had interacted with NGO leaders. Representatives of Sheki NGOs explained their work generally and the activities of projects more specifically. The journalists present were also informed about the establishment of the NGO Coordinating Council in Sheki. The chairman of the Tashabbus (“Initiative”) NGO, Mustafakamal Islamov suggested that NGOs establish closer contacts with the press. In an effort to promote this, the NGO Coordinating Council plans to elect an executive to be in charge of press relations. Information about the above-mentioned meeting has already been disseminated by radio and similar reports have been broadcast by ANS and published in local newspapers.

Fuad Dargakhly
ISAR/Azerbaijan

Preserving Cultural Traditions in Azerbaijan

The Cultural Center of Ethnic Minorities of Azerbaijan (CCEMA), established in the Guba-Khachmaz region in April 1999, has been involved in studying and publicizing traditions of nearly twenty ethnic minorities and nationalities living in the northern provinces of Azerbaijan. The peoples living in the region have interesting traditions and speak a number of languages, which are not similar to any found elsewhere in the country.

Members of the organization use their knowledge of the culture, traditions, history and ethnography of these ethnic groups to study the region’s towns and villages. A group of CCEMA members have visited a number of villages, including Khinalyg, Budur, Gryz, Jeck, Erguj, and Uchkun to study the traditions and customs of ethnic minorities living there. Leaders and activists of the organization intend to seek international funding to support their continued work, including attracting specialists, publishing a book of photos, holding an ethnic handicraft exhibition, setting up a special section at the historical museum in Khachmaz, and other related activities. In the near future, the Center plans to prepare a special digest to provide extensive coverage of the ethnography of Azerbaijan.

Khumar Asadova
CCEMA chairperson

CHILDREN’S PAGE

Love for Children Brings NGOs Together

A recent meeting of children’s NGOs succeeded in bringing these NGOs closer together. The session’s agenda included such issues as information about ISAR/Azerbaijan’s Large and Small Grants programs, a presentation of Save the Children's Azerweb internet site, as well as the Sahib Society’s decision to organize a “Day of the Disabled”. Most importantly, however, the meeting resulted in moves to create an Association of Children’s NGOs.

It appears as if the unification of children’s NGOs in Azerbaijan has become a reality. The children’s organizations El, Azerbaijan in the 21st Century, Sahib, Sulh (“Peace”), Kavkaz, League for the Protection of Children’s Rights, and Pilgrim unanimously agreed at this meeting that close integration is necessary. Each of these organizations has a solid programming record and significant work experience. It is time for children’s organizations to join forces in providing information, methodological and practical assistance to each other by implementing joint projects and activities. More efficient interaction with government agencies as well as international organizations focused on solving large-scale problems is also necessary.

Unlike other meetings, where calls for unification were abstract, during this session the head of Azerbaijan in the 21st Century, Irada Kuliyeva, made a concrete proposal for an association of children’s NGOs. After some discussion, most of the meeting attendees supported the organized form of coalition proposed by Kuliyeva, which would make the association’s work coordinated and efficient. It is now up to the NGOs to select a framework for their future association. Questionnaires have been distributed among NGOs to help pinpoint priority trends in the work of NGOs, their plans for the future, problems they regularly encounter, and views on the form, structure and vision of the new association. Adil Alekparov, chairman of the El Development Center, shared some ideas for the association with the meeting attendees. He proposed the following four programs areas for the association to focus on:

  1. Social (including humanitarian assistance)
  2. Educational development
  3. Health services
  4. Development of the NGO sector

According to Mr. Alekparov, the above programs will be implemented through children’s NGOs joint projects and activities. Representatives of a number of NGOs think it is necessary to add another important project area — Public Awareness — to the list of activities.

Some of the future association’s structure can already be discerned. We expect a more constructive dialogue and decisions at the next children’s NGO monthly meeting at ISAR.

First and foremost, the session participants spoke of the need for trust-based relationship among organizations. It is trust and love for our children and compassion for their problems that must form the foundation of a union of children’s organizations in Azerbaijan.

Nurlana Javanshir
Azerbaijan in the 21st century

NGOs and Educational Reform in Azerbaijan

The El Development Center is interested in education reform in Azerbaijan and the application of new teaching methodologies that meet international standards. As a result, an experimental methodological group has been established by the Center to develop and publish academic study aids for interactive teaching in elementary schools.

In November, the El Center held a charitable event at School No. 38 of the Yasamal district. One elementary level classroom was provided with study aids prepared by the El methodological group. Moreover, El, in cooperation with Hyatt International, has distributed study aids to a refugee school in the Balajari district. Children were presented with two sets of academic study aids. El has also provided training for teachers of elementary grades on how to use these textbooks.

The El Center is committed to supporting educational reform in Azerbaijan and is interested in closely collaborating with other non-governmental organizations on this issue.

Adil Alekparov
El Development Center

QUESTION-ANSWER

What we you know about the recent comments on the Law on Grants?

On 29 October 1999, the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic prepared and adopted a Resolution on comments on Article 5 of the Law on Grants of Azerbaijan. It contains the following provisions:

Article 1 of the Law on Grants defines as a grant any financial assistance earmarked for the implementation of humanitarian, social and environmental projects, for rebuilding areas damaged by war or natural disaster and restoring infrastructure in these areas, and for the support of education, cultural, scientific, and research activities, and legal assistance, as well as other activities considered important for the state and society.

Article 3 of the Law On Grants states that grant money can only be used for preparing and carrying out social projects and cannot be used for profit. Assistance for direct profit-making activity is excluded from the definition of grant.

A Constitutional Court resolution of October 1999, decided the following: financial assistance provided by a grant is exempt from all taxes provided that grant-providers and grant-recipients do not profit from grants focused on social development. Exempting grant-recipients from deductions to the State Budget provides favorable conditions for development.

According to Section 3 of Article 5 of the Law on Grants, salaries paid out by organizations implementing grant-funded programs are taxable according to existing income tax legislation. Grant-recipients are exempt from all other taxes.

Section 1 of Article 73 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan stresses the obligation of everyone to contribute taxes as detailed in the legal code. Section 2 states that citizens cannot be required to pay any additional taxes which are not required by the legal code.

Prepared by
Elchin Sardarov
ISAR/Azerbaijan

ISAR/AZ NEWS

Information Program News

Monthly Information Sessions

The Director of the Open Society Institute/Azerbaijan (OSI) Educational Programs, Elmina Kazimzadeh, informed local NGOs about OSI’s programs at the ISAR/Azerbaijan December information Session.

Ms. Kazimzadeh spoke about the work and programs of the Baku-based Fund and its subsidiaries in Ganja and Mingachevir including the Grants Program, the Travel Grant Program, the East-East Program, the educational program entitled “From the Center to the Regions”, the Debate Program, as well as the work of the Baku Information and Education Center, the Mass Media Support Program, the work of the Internet Center, and other OSI projects.

In response to NGO representatives questions, Ms. Kazimzadeh spoke in detail about OSI’s educational programs for Baku pre-school and elementary grades. She also addressed the work undertaken by OSI/Azerbaijan in assisting teachers and scientists to prepare study tools on ecology and other disciplines as well as English language courses for NGO representatives.

Monthly meetings of NGOs and the Mass Media

Representatives of five local NGOs met with media representatives on 26 November 1999. NGOs included in the meeting were: the Union of Journalists Writing on Ecology, Kavkaz (International Public Center on Local Lore and Ecological Tourism), For Equal Rights (Union of Handicapped Women), Saniya (Humanitarian Information-Analytical Agency), and Azerbaijan in the 21st Century.

Others invited to the meeting were representatives of international and state organizations engaged in supporting NGOs and interested in encouraging cooperation of NGOs with the press, namely, Lala Rzayeva of the Eurasia Foundation in Azerbaijan, Kazim Kuliyev of the British Know-How Fund, and Khalida Bagirli, deputy director of a department under the Ministry of Information and Press of Azerbaijan.

The Saniya representative informed the meeting participants of new events being held by the organization, creation of a news room for NGOs, a roundtable dedicated to various social issues, and publication of the November issue of the Saniya newsletter. The chairman of Kavkaz, Elchin Orujev, announced the establishment of the Civil Information Network of NGOs and the mass media, which aims to strengthen collaboration among NGO activists and journalists and development of civil diplomacy. The Network has its own press agency, an electronic newspaper and a radio program.

In her remarks at the meeting, Eurasia Foundation representative Lala Rzayeva highlighted the interest the Foundation takes in the development of the mass media, and spoke briefly about media development projects and publications of Yeni Nasil (“New Generation”), Ruh (“Spirit”) and other NGOs supported by the Foundation. The representative of the British Know-How Fund, Kazim Kuliyev, stressed the significance of cooperation among NGOs and development of independent press in Azerbaijan.

CASPIAN PROGRAM

Caspian Region Environmental NGOs Begin Cooperating

People often say that the third sector’s main strength is in its unity. However, many people do not realize the importance of cooperation among NGOs and what benefits this cooperation can bring to society. As a result of these recognized benefits, many international foundations give preference to joint projects when distributing grants. ISAR also conducts joint grant rounds in order to stimulate cooperation among NGOs. The Caspian Project, which targets collaboration among Caspian environmental NGOs is no exception.

We believe that it is difficult for NGOs to solve existing problems independently, especially in such an important area as the environment. Just imagine who in Azerbaijan will pay attention to the calls of NGOs to stop oil extraction in a place with unique natural landscapes, when these operations promise huge financial gain. In such circumstances, when seeking immediate revenues can exacerbate environmental problems, the cooperation of many NGOs can play a significant role in achieving their goals. If the call of one environmental organization is backed by tens of others, it is difficult to ignore these public calls and initiatives.

Unfortunately, Azerbaijan’s NGOs often consider each other rivals in their race for grants and forget the ethical norms of the third sector, which should encourage mutual assistance and support.

Enver Safarzadeh
ISAR/Azerbaijan

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Caspian Day

Participants in the conference “Expansion of Partnership Among Environmental NGOs of the Transcaspian Basin” held in the outskirts of Baku in April 1999, initiated the idea of conducting an annual Caspian Day. The purpose of the Caspian Day is to draw public attention to environmental and socio-economic problems of the Caspian, develop and support nature-protecting initiatives and traditions of the peoples of Caspian states, and broaden collaboration and exchange of experience among environmental organizations of the region.

An initiative organizing committee in charge of the project’s implementation has been set up. This committee includes ISAR and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The committee intends to organize a broad discussion of this initiative in state, public environmental protection and educational organizations of the Caspian states, and to provide the necessary organizational, information and financial assistance in this area.

The Annual Caspian Day can be the final stage of environmental protection activity of the year: actions, holiday parties, contests, environmental camps, educational ecological programs and other initiatives. The organizing committee suggests that the Caspian states set a common date for the holiday’s celebration , the second Sunday of September, which will unite the people of the Caspian states. The support and participation of all the Caspian states, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan, is very important. We invite you to join this initiative and we believe that the Annual Caspian Day will promote more careful treatment of the unique lake-sea and help realize its ecological, aesthetic and spiritual significance. For further information please contact ISAR-Moscow, 121019, Moscow, G-19, mail box 210, Tel: 251-7617, email: clearh@glasnet.ru.

ISAR/IUCN Organizing Committee

ANNOUNCEMENTS

LOCAL NGOS

The Ganja initiative group Maishat invites cooperation in the area of ecology and safe domestic living standards. The group’s mission is to ascertain the causes of ecological, social and other problems and to develop measures to eliminate them.

Telephone in Ganja: (895 22) 3 69 87.

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The publication of the Press-Club’s weekly electronic bulletin has begun. The bulletin will report on the work of regional NGOs in the area of human rights, freedom of speech, laws and legislative initiatives, overcoming dissociation in the South Caucasus, promotion of economic reforms and regional collaboration, ecology and sustainable development. The bulletin is prepared jointly with the Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan, Yeni Nasil, the Press-Clubs of Yerevan and Tbilisi. Full versions of the bulletin’s two issues are available at the ISAR/Azerbaijan Resource Center.

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Scholarships

The Humanitarian Research Institute is pleased to announce the commencement of a scholarship program for capable students with an interest in the issues of classical liberalism and its traditions. The key principles of these traditions are recognition of human rights, dignity and values of all personalities, protection of their rights through the private property system, contracts, the rule of law, attracted mediatory institutes, as well as good will principles in human relations. This also includes free market mechanisms in the economy, free trade, migration and peace principles.

The Institute provides about 90 scholarships every year. The deadline for applications in 1999 is December 31. For more information, please contact our website:

http//www.usalert.com/htdoc/usoa/fnd/any/any/proc/any/ihus09179801a.htm

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The Open Society Institute (OSI) is pleased to announce the OSI/Chivning University’s scholarship program in the area of human rights under the Human Rights Center of Great Britain. Students of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are eligible for the program, which provides a master’s degree in the area of human rights or international law on human rights.

The ISAR/Azerbaijan Resource Center can provide applicants with information on the program’s requirements. For details on criteria, selection process and form of application, please contact Bahar Hadji-zadeh at the Educational and Information Center of Baku. Address: Sh. Badalbayli Street, 98. Tel/Fax: 93-77-46, e-mail: Hadji-zadehBR@beic.osi-az.org; Internet site: http://www2essex.ac.uk /human_rights_centre/. Information on other OSI scholarships is available at site: http://www.osi.hu/nsp/

Seminar

The U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) and the Academy of Educational Development (AED) invite women leaders of non-governmental organizations and communities to attend the seminar: Conflict Resolution and Problems of Refugees and IDPs.

The goal of the seminar is to develop regional cooperation among women’s NGOs of the Caucasus. The seminar attendees are expected to discuss issues pertaining to the establishment of the Caucasus Women Association, the role of women in conflict resolution and the problems of displaced persons (IDPs). The seminar will be held in Georgia from 21-25 February 2000.

Conferences

A human rights conference will be held May 5-7 in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada). Participants from all over the world will discuss problems, achievements, prospects and chart human rights work in both international organizations and local groups. Main topics for discussion include:

– rights of women and children;
– aboriginal population and environment;
– prisoners’ problems;
– torture.

The organizing committee plans to draw up “country profiles” – brief descriptions of geography, history, political situations, human rights protection problems, as well as contact information of human rights groups in participating countries. About 550 participants are expected to take part in the conference. At present, an organizing committee for the conference, as well as 13 regional geographical sub-committees, a fund raising group, and a few other structures have been created. The work has just begun and the organizers are looking for the support of human rights protection NGOs worldwide. The organizing committee is particularly interested in the participation of representatives from the NIS both in the preparation stage and in the conference itself. For details please contact: Mike Hudema, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, e-mail: hudema@ualberta.ca

***

Seeking Civil Society: Environmental NGOs in the Caspian, May 2000. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea region has gained economic, political as well as environmental significance. The environmental NGOs that have emerged and presently operate in the Caspian region, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran, address issues resulting from the past decade's neglect of environmental issues in the sea's basin. The Columbia University's Caspian Project plans to organize a conference providing a forum for representatives of various environmental NGOs in the Caspian region to discuss the role of these organizations and their contribution to the building of civil society in their states. It is anticipated that the conference will be held early May 2000. If interested, please email an abstract by January 31, 2000 to: Pardis Minuchehr (pm50@columbia.edu) or Peter Sinnott (pjs7@columbia.edu).

Bulletins

Transitions Online is a monthly bulletin now available on the Internet. This bulletin reports on the political and social situation in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS. The on-line edition continues the traditions of Transitions magazine, which has received positive feedback from such well-known newspapers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The International Herald Tribune. Transitions magazine has helped local journalists cover international news and has served as a reliable source of information on the developments and prospects in the region.

Transitions Online highlights issues of regional importance. The website will be expanded in the near future to include such topics as Week in Review and an Analytical Forum. These new sections will provide an analysis of information and indicators of political, economic and social development of regional countries.

Prepared and published in Prague, «Transitions Online» is intended to become a bridge between East and West. The publishers hope that it will serve as a unique source of information for all who would like to learn more about the region. The site address is: www.transitions-online.org. For comments, proposals and subscriptions, please contact: e-mail: transitions@ijt.cz.

ISAR PROGRAMS

ISAR/AZERBAIJAN OFFERS THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMS:

TRAINING PROGRAM

INFORMATION PROGRAM

GRANT PROGRAM

REGIONAL PROGRAM

ISAR’s Regional Program brings the training, grant and information programs to the regions of Azerbaijan to support the activity of local NGOs, link NGO activity around the country as well as instigate the formation of new organizations. ISAR currently works in Hachmaz, Ganja, Mingechevir, and Sheki

The ISAR/Azerbaijan Resource-Center Has Copies of the Following Directories and Bulletins:

“Funds On-Line” - is the first directory of web sites of independent funders on the Internet, created through the initiative of the Orpheus Program of the Center of European Funds. The goal of this Center is to provide support to funders and other financing organizations in Europe. Through this new directory on the Internet, users can gain access to sites of more than 300 funders and other financial institutions providing support of more than 3.5 billion Euro to the countries of New Europe. The Internet address is: http://www.fundersonline.org.

The Secretariat of the Caucasian Forum of NGOs began issuing a bulletin in Russian titled For Lasting Peace and Stable Development. The bulletin discusses the Forum’s activities, events, initiatives of Forum participants, as well as conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance and human rights activities of Caucasus region NGOs. The Forum Secretariat requests that interested NGOs inform them about their own activities and that of the NGO sector in their region. The Secretariat’s E-mail is: forum_npo@kbsu.ru. The first issue of the bulletin is available in the ISAR/Azerbaijan Resource Center.

“Good Local News” is a monthly English-language electronic bulletin focusing on human rights protection, diplomacy, peaceful conflict resolution and environmental problems. This bulletin looks to strengthen ties between the NGOs around the world by means of Internet and e-mail. All NGOs are welcomed to submit information to the bulletin. The bulletin’s web-site address is: <http://www.nonviolence.org/ggn>. You may subscribe to the bulletin at the following e-mail address: b.luber@bionic.zerberus.de

Ecological news bulletins:

The ISAR/Azerbaijan Resource-Center also receives news bulletins issued by some Azerbaijani local NGOs. To learn more about the material available at the ISAR/Azerbaijan Resource Center, please contact the Resource Center Manager.

For Your Information

Organizations wishing to ask and receive answers to questions on legal aspects of NGO activities, i.e. preparation of legal documents, registration, tax regulation, legislative basis, conflict management within the organization, civil law, etc., may present their questions in writing to ISAR/Azerbaijan. Answers will be provided by professional lawyers from NGOs. The most useful answers will be published in the QUESTION-AND-ANSWER SESSION of the ISAR/Azerbaijan Information Bulletin. For further information please contact Elchin Sardarov.

All local and international NGOs and initiative groups are welcome to contribute articles, suggestions, responses, announcements, and pictures to ISAR/Azerbaijan for publication in Third Sector News. The material provided for the bulletin must in some way be related to NGO sector development in Azerbaijan. ISAR/Azerbaijan and the US Agency for International Development are not responsible for the content of information presented by local NGOs and the mass media. If material from this bulletin is reproduced, please cite the ISAR/Azerbaijan Information Bulletin.
Address: Baku, Jafar Jabbarly 24, apt. 2
Telephones: 95-25-57, 95-30-37; Fax: 94-30-84
E-mail: ngo@isar.baku.az

Bulletin Editor: Elchin Sardarov
Third Sector News is produced with generous support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)