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Environmental Law

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Azerbaijan

    The Constitution of Azerbaijan features provisions for the protection of the environment. Article 39 states that:

  • Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment
  • Everyone has the right to collect information on the environmental situation and to get compensation for damage rendered to the health and property due to the violation of ecological rights
  • No one may cause threat or damage to the environment and natural resources beyond the limits set by law.
  • The state guarantees the preservation of ecological balance and protection of the species of wild plants and animals determined by law

Featured Legislation

Environmental  legislation in Azerbaijan draws upon the  Republic’s Constitution; the present law; and other legal regulation acts, in conjunction with relevant international conventions.

1992:  The Land Code (115 articles) was approved and is divided into 16 sections: General Provisions (1), Rights and obligations of proprietors (2), Farmland (3), Landownership, landholding and land use (4), Land of settlements (5), Land for industry, transportation, communication and other purposes (6), Land in sub-urban and green zones (7), Land of forest, water bodies and the land reserve (8), Damages (9), Land protection (10), Monitoring the use and protection of land (11), State land records (12), Land management (13), Settlement of disputes (14), Accountability (15) and International treaties (16).

1997: The Seed Act (No. 257-IQ of the Republic of Azerbaijan) was instituted. This Act aims at increasing seed production and improving quality of seeds. It sets forth the basic rules and procedures regarding the intensification of the production of seeds, producing climate resilient seeds, plant health and pests. It also lays down provisions regarding plant genetic resources, seed certification and the registration of plant varieties. The Act further sets out provisions regarding the seed funds and other public services and their organizational structure as well as their authorities and functions. It also provides for general principles of internal and international trade, conservation and quarantine and the responsibilities of legal and real persons involved in seed production and trade

1997: The Forest Code was signed, establishing the legal bases of regulation of forest relations, use, protection, preservation and reproduction of forests.

1998: The Law on Consumption and Production Wastes was adopted, setting provisions related to the inventory of industrial waste.

1999: Decision No. 146 of the Cabinet of the Azerbaijan Republic was tabled. Water objects are considered polluted if have come to a condition, partially or completely unsuitable for existence and development of fish stocks and other live organisms owing to change of structure and properties of water in view of direct or indirect influence of a waste and sewage of all kinds of a household and economic origin. Criterion of pollution of water is deterioration of its quality owing to changes in the organoleptic properties and presence as a part of harmful to fish and other live organisms (including having fodder and hunting value) substances, and also the rise in temperature of the water which have entailed changes of conditions of normal ability to live of water organisms.Compound and qualitative suitability of the water used in a fishing economy, is defined on the basis of the present norms and requirements. On value for a fishing economy water objects are divided on two categories: (a) the water objects used for restoration, a gain and protection of valuable kinds of the fish, different high oxygen sensitivity, — to the first category; (b) the water objects used for other purposes of a fishing economy, — to the second category. The category of water object on value for a fishing economy is defined by the fisheries service taking into account the future development of a fishing economy and fishery. Use of fish stocks is paid, except for the cases provided by the legislation of the Azerbaijan Republic. Payments for use of fish stocks and penalties for illegal fishing are differentiated depending on kinds of fishing tools and means, and also from appointment of water objects.

1998: The Law on Industrial and Domestic Waste was approved, outlining  state policy in the area of environment protection from industrial and domestic waste.

1999: The Law on Land Fertility was passed, creating the legal bases for the restoration and protection of land fertility on state, municipal and private property.

1999: The Law on Environmental Protection was passed, serving as a framework for the regulation of water, soil, air;  waste management; the  protection of fauna, protected areas and ecological expertise.

1999: The Law on Environmental Safety was introduced, outlining the rights and responsibilities of government, citizens, public associations and local authorities. The law also governs the  use of natural resources, establishing a state registry of natural resources of the environment with monitoring, standardization and certification schemes.

2001: The Law on the Protection of Atmospheric Air was instituted,  establishing legal bases for the  protection of atmospheric air.

2002: The Law on Access to Environmental Information was created to grant access to information on all development projects, as well as criteria according to which the information is classified as public or restricted.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Armenia has occupied regions of Azerbaijan for more than thirty years, looting natural resources, polluting waters, destroying flora and fauna, and using select areas for the trafficking of drugs. Vugar Karimov, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resource cited concerns about the country’s environmental security and the gross violation of various international conventions: the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, The Convention on Combating Desertification, and other international agreements. As a result of Armenian occupation, water sources have been polluted and surrounding communities have been deprived of using water from reservoirs, creating serious threats to human health.
  • Senior ecology officials in Azerbaijan have identified Armenia’s illegal occupation of certain regions in the country as acts of “environmental terror”. The destruction of Azerbaijan’s flora and fauna by Armenian soldiers has encompassed the felling of more than 2,000-years-old plane trees in Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli, and other Azerbaijani territories. Azercosmos satellite images have captured the burning of the Topkhana forest around the city of Shusha and arson attacks on forests. Efforts have been made to restore the balance of the country’s ecology by replanting of certain species of trees and the restoration of vegetation in select areas.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources: email,