Legal opinion on constitutional changes concerning presidential elections in Azerbaijan

Human Rights Club of Azerbaijan and the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights have the honour to present and to distribute the legal opinion on presidential elections in Azerbaijan.

The opinion has been prepared by a distinguished constitutional law scholar Professor Wojciech Sadurski and claims that constitutional amendments resulting in a possibility for President Ilham Aliyev to compete for the third term in office are contrary to principles of rule of law, human rights and transparency.

Prof. Sadurski is a professor at the University of Sydney Faculty of Law. He is also member of the Global Faculty of the New York University School of Law. He is a specialist in comparative constitutional law, freedom of speech and human rights. He has published numerous articles and books in leading legal journals and publishers, including Oxford University Press.

In his opinion Prof. Sadurski summarizes 2009 constitutional amendments in Azerbaijan removing presidential limits. He analyses transparency of constitutional changes and their compliance with modern standards of democracy and constitutionalism. He claims that the process of constitutional changes violated the principle of openness and transparency, because the respective change was opaque and hidden between more than 20 other provisions.

Moreover, right to democratic government is essential to the fulfilment of international obligations on human rights. Therefore, any European country which is party to the European Convention on Human Rights, breaches the Convention by lifting any term limits for being elected as president.

Third, he claims that 2009 constitutional amendment which lifted presidential term limits violated principles of legal certainty and retrospectivity.

“I hope that this opinion will be subject of consideration by international opinion-makers, institutions, as well as ordinary citizens of Azerbeijan before upcoming presidential elections,” commented Rasul Jafarov of the Human Rights Club of Azerbaijan. “It just confirms the thinking of many people that the Constitution should not be changed in a way allowing Ilham Aliyev to become the President for the lifetime.”

“The European Parliament recently decided not to observe presidential elections in Azerbaijan. I hope that this opinion will convince some European and national decision-makers to have a careful view on political future of this country – member-state of the Council of Europe,” said Adam Bodnar from the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

The English versions of the opinion is attached.

For further comments please contact:

- Rasul Jafarov, the Human Rights Club of Azerbaijan, mobile: +994 50 586 3537, e-mail:

- Adam Bodnar, the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, mobile: +48 603 608 400, email:

- Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, mobile: +48 504 080 152, e-mail: