Europe of Human Rights

Amidst numerous changes introduced in 2009, the limit on the number of terms one person can be the president disappeared from the text of the Azeri constitution. In a process that cannot be described as transparent citizens by means of a referendum agreed that Ilham Aliyev could potentially hold the office indefinitely.

In a recently published legal opinion Professor Wojciech Sadurski, Challis Professor of Jurisprudence at the 
Faculty of Law of Sydney University, takes a look at the events that took place from a strictly legal point of view and highlights the shortcomings of the conduct deployed by Azeri authorities from the point of view of constitutional law.

It follows from the opinion that the change to the constitution apart from violating the principle of transparency constituted a breach of European law under the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the international law.

The author proves that the adoption of the amendment violated the principle of transparency, since the new constitutional provision didn’t correspond at all to the scope and subject-matter of the former constitutional provision which it replaced. The amendment misled the voters about its real meaning and purpose.

Professor Sadurski further argues that there is a dominant customary norm that limits the number of terms in systems where presidents hold strong powers. This customary norm has become part and parcel of the principles of democracy.

According to the author under the European Convention on Human Rights, all citizens of the Council of Europe member states have a right to democratic governance. What is more, he also suggests that under universal international law there is customary binding rule of a right to democratic governance. This implies that the removal of presidential term limits in Azerbaijan violates the law of the European Convention of Human Rights system and constitutes a breach of international law.

The opinion can be found here.

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