A. MEDIA & CIVIL SOCIETY DEVELOPMENT
In 2012, IEPF achieved a lot in the sphere of media and civil society development. IEPF expanded our media activities to cover lots of grounds and engage in new activity directions. Considering that media remain a big aspect of what the organization does, IEPF endeavored to support the process of achieving a vibrant media and civil society in Azerbaijan.
As a country, Azerbaijan has already achieved lots of improvement in the area of freedom of expression, and developing media. Azerbaijan hosted various major media conferences and other conferences that targeted the CSOs. The Azerbaijan government continues to support the development process through the State Support Fund for Mass Media, and also the State Support Fund for the NGOs. IEPF supports the government body initiative, and participate in the process of developing these instruments to better serve for the advancement in professionalism of mass media and the civil society in general.
Basically, International Press Institute (IPI) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Division of the UN are the 2 organizations that feature prominently in IEPF annual activities related to media and civil society development. IEPF as a member of both IPI and ECOSOC uses the platform to do focus activities in Azerbaijan. In most instances, IEPF travelled to participate in events organized by these global institutions.
1. ECOSOC: IEPF submits its quadrennial report and also request for reclassification; additionally IEPF host UN agencies and CSOs in an event in UN HQ, as well present a policy paper during the High Level Segment.
In 2012, IEPF representatives made 2 trips to the USA in order to continue our activities in promoting sustainable and equal development in Azerbaijan and the region. IEPF has made pursing achieving the MDGs in Azerbaijan a top priority. For this purpose, the organization has led other national and regional NGOs in propagating MDGs, patek philippe replica watches measuring the index in Azerbaijan; IEPF contributed in online forums during the preparatory process to RIO+20, and also through organizing meetings with various UN agencies in Azerbaijan, IEPF continues to present CSOs standpoint on issues concerning MDGs such as eradicating extreme poverty and equal development.
As a requisite for NGOs in good standing with ECOSOC, IEPF early in the year sent its quadrennial report to the body. In February, IEPF representatives participated in the Session of the NGO Committee of ECOSOC of which IEPF report was considered. The report was subsequently approved and passed.
IEPF also took the opportunity to participate in the fiftieth session of the Commission for Social Development of the ECOSOC division United Nations resumed for 2012 on the 1st of February until the 10th of February. The meeting was a follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development and the 24th special session of the General Assembly considered the report of the Secretary-General on the social dimension of the New Partnership for Africa Development; poverty eradication; preparation for and observance of the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2014 and mainstreaming disability in the development agenda. At the session, IEPF made an oral presentation titled: Youth -Poverty and Unemployment: Displacement as a Main Cause of Unequal Opportunities among Azerbaijani Youths and High Level of Youth Unemployment.
In line with similar organization approach, IEPF sent an oral statement to ECOSOC for consideration during the Substantive session of 2012, High-level segment: annual ministerial review substantive session of 2012, which was scheduled in New York, 2-27 July 2012. The statement was approved by the General Assembly and subsequent adopted as a UN document, translated into the 6 UN official languages. The paper outlined the organization focuses on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger among victims of war through encouraging cooperative and communal agriculture as an effective way to support communities in eradicating extreme poverty.
Since IEPF has expanded its capacity and successfully representing the region, and with an interest to expand ECOSOC brand in the Central Asia and Eurasia regions, IEPF applied for a reclassification of its consultative status. The new upgrade in status will allow IEPF to have more access in UN policy decision through contributing recommendations. IEPF also intend to use the new status as mandate to mobilize other NGOs and CSOs organization in the region towards active participation in UN strategic plan. The application is in progress and it is still in review, at the stage where the NGO Committee will have to make a final consideration.
IEPF on July 03, 2012, organized a side event during the High Level Segment 2012. The theme of the event was “meetings of donors and partners in sustainable and inclusive development” and it was in accordance with the general theme: “Promoting productive capacity and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals". At the event, UN agencies such as UNHCR, UN DPI, UNICEF, UNDP, sent top representatives, while CSOs and country mission of Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan Azerbaijan, United States, and Uzbekistan also took part. The meeting brought together global partners and stewards working on community development issues to foster network and develop a mapping of priority areas to concentrate in eradicating poverty among communities through sharing best practices, consequently, IEPF produced a policy paper that was shared with respective stakeholders.
2. IPI: Advocacy work, participation in high level meetings, organizing trainings workshops, and conferences; and supporting press freedom activism.
IEPF through its association with IPI continue to advocate for Azerbaijani journalists. Several statement were posted on IPI website concerning state of media in Azerbaijan, and in all of these statement, the Chairman of IEPF has always made his stand clear that every journalists who carries out his duty professionally has a right to freedom of expression. The IPI secretariat continues to work with IEPF in monitoring state of media in Azerbaijan and in the region of Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
In respect to the mandate of establishing an IPI Regional Initiative Center given to the IPI National Committee, Azerbaijan based on the Baku Declaration agreed on November 04, 2011 by Chairpersons of IPI National Committee to expand IPI in the region of Central Asia and post-Soviet republics, IEPF as the leading organization in the National Committee continued to pursue this objective. The Chairman of IEPF, Mr. Umud Mirzayev, accompanied by a member of the National Committee, Mr. Azer Hasret, who is also the Chairperson of the Central Asia and South Caucasus Freedom of Expression Network (CASFEN visited 2 countries in the region: Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan with the intention of establishing National Committees.
In 2012, IEPF have successfully arranged for the establishment of 3 National Committee in the regions. The countries are Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. These IPI National Committee should be approved and functional by 2013; and the IPI Regional Initiative Center located in IEPF headquarter office, Baku should be able to coordinate all National Committee and consequently advocate for more media development, advancement of professionalism in journalism and promoting freedom of expression in the region.
IEPF continued to work with National and International Media organization to pursue media reforms in Azerbaijan. Such reforms were on decriminalizing defamation (with Azerbaijan Press Council, and OSCE), developing a new codes of conduct and ethics of journalism (in a coalition of NGOs, led by the International Federation of Journalists). IPI Executive Director addressed personal letters to the President of the Republic, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, putting forward a request to free jailed journalists and also soliciting for the decriminalizing defamation as a law. In September, IEPF organized a meeting for the IPI Executive Director, Mrs. Alison Bethel Mckenzie, with the office of the president in order to continue to push for these issues. It is in the interest of IPI that countries still practicing such laws carry out reforms, and IPI in the year was able to achieve success in this area on countries of the Caribbean such as Granada that has abolished the law, while Jamaica and Trinidad government with the prospect to follow suite. It is in line with this development, and based on concrete assurance that IEPF is anticipating that Azerbaijan government will approve the proposition to reform its media law by 2013.
IEPF Chairman, Mr. Umud Mirzayev accompanied by the Director of Program, Mr. Nick Nwolisa participated in IPI World Congress and General Assembly held in Trinidad and Tobago from the 22 – 24 June, 2012. At the General Assembly, the Chairman of IEPF was elected into the IPI Executive Board as the 28th member of the board. Also at the general assembly, the delegation presented Baku as the host city for the first ever IPI Oil, Gas and Media conference.
The IPI Oil, Gas and Media Conference 2012, the groundbreaking event brought together leading oil and gas journalists, financial and business reporters, and major oil and gas industry experts, analysts and stakeholders for 3 days, from the 17th – 19th of September, 2012, to explore how public opinion, freedom of information, media relations and social media all intersect with the oil and gas industry. Over 150 journalists from 27 countries participated in the conference, that has session topics discussions such as: "Oil and Press Freedom - Rig Over Troubled Waters?", "Risk and Reward", "Chasing the Story: What the Government Should Tell You"; "Exploration, Extraction and Safety", "My Country is Oil Rich, So Why Am I So Poor?", "Baku, Black Gold Capital" and "The Use of Social Media by Oil Companies in the Public Opinion Fight". IEPF played an active role in identifying potential sponsors, as well as reaching out to prospective participants and then making sure that most local media and government representatives participated. The success from the conference was the chance created for local and international journalists to ask questions from Azerbaijan government officials, as well as top officials of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). The conference was highly acclaimed as a success both by participants and observers.
The “Eurasia Press” division under the media department of IEPF in 2012 published several books, assisted in proof reading and compilation of several documents and participated in local, national and international book fairs. List of the publications made by the Eurasia Press Includes:
1. Briefing Paper on the Side Event “Meeting of Donors and Partners in Sustainable and Equal development”
2. Brochure on the Oil, Gas and Media Conference
3. IEPF Annual Report for 2011
4. Azerbaijan Youth Advocate Program “Healthy Lifestyle”
B. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
The main focus of the department handling the issues on community development has primarily focused on the post-conflict reconstruction of communities affected by war. For 20 years now, IEPF has been very active in ensuring that these communities ravaged by war are supported through implementing focused projects that supports reintegration process. Although the Azerbaijan government has expanded its regional development plan and most of these communities and the regions are experiencing successful structural development, however, IEPF continue to play a role in human capacity development of the population residing in these regions.
1. UNICEF: Azerbaijan Youth Advocate Program
In 2012, IEPF expanded its cooperation with UNICEF in Azerbaijan. UNICEF and IEPF partnered in implementing the project “Azerbaijan Youth Advocate Program (AYAP). The project was implemented in 7 regions of Azerbaijan: Terter, Agdam, Goranboy, Aghjebedi, Beylegan, Yevlax, and Berda. Within this program, IEPF could train 140 rural youths, 20 from each of the regions listed, and through these trainings, youths acquired knowledge on healthy lifestyle, early marriages, drug abuse, and youth participation, including using new media (social tools) for advocacy. About 28 trainings were carried out for the youths within the program; in the process of implementing the action, IEPF developed a training brochure, and also a methodology for effective communication; 140 youths were able to use these tools to do outreach activities; create small networks as cells and as such lead other youths in their communities; and also do peer to peer education of fellow young people.
Some of the impact IEPF could achieve from the project was:
I. established a network of active youths in the region who are able to defend youth challenges as well as advocate for change in the regions;
II. create a dynamic scheme of how to develop youths in the rural districts of Azerbaijan;
III. develop a platform through town-hall meetings for youths to be able to engage in direct dialogue with government officials and local government workers
Within this project, the main Representative of UNICEF, Mr. Mark Hereward has made visits to the regions to participate in the town-hall meetings in Terter on June 07, 2012, and the second town-hall meeting in Aghjebedi on October 30, 2012. Also, the Deputy UNICEF Representative, Mr. Rasheed Mustafa has equally made 2 trips to the region, first during the orientation process and setting up Action Groups comprising of young people, and secondly during the town-hall meeting in Aghjebedi. The head of local authority for Terter and Aghjebedi were both part of the town-hall meetings held at their respective regions, and both local authorities reacted positively towards eradicating problems young people are facing related to healthy lifestyle and unemployment.
2. Japan Embassy: Improvement and Diversification of the VTC Cooperative Farm in Teter
2012, IEPF continue to pay close attention in supporting community agricultural based initiatives as a means of lifting rural people from poverty. The Cooperative Farm of the Vocational Training Center in Terter established by IEPF in 2010 through the support of the US Department of State was one of such initiative. Considering the impact of the VTC Cooperative Farm in supporting community development, the Japan Embassy through its Grassroots Development Program agreed to support the expansion of the farm.
February 15, 2012, the Japan Ambassador was in Terter for the signing ceremony of commencement of 2 projects activities implemented by IEPF by the financial support of the embassy. The first was IEPF constructing an irrigation system through digging of an artisan well; and the second was purchase of heavy farm machines that support mechanized farming in the VTC, as well as constructing an animal house for the purpose of raising cows for meat and dairy purposes.
By November, 2012, IEPF has successfully completed the project and the Japan Ambassador was in Terter for the opening ceremony. Together with the head of the local authority, the project was commissioned to serve the communities. The project impacts are:
I. Irrigation problem solved for farms and households within the premise where the VTC and the VTC Farm are located;
II. VTC employs community persons who would be responsible for farm operations in the farm as well as mounting the heavy machines;
III. Family of victims residing in Terter to benefit from the assistance scheme that the Center and the Farm would be providing, such as availability of dairy products and meats for consumption at affordable cost;
IV. VTC center is provided with adequate equipment to support well-grounded training for participants who pass through the center.
3. Micro crediting: Small and Medium Scale Businesses
The micro financial institution that was constituted by IEPF in accordance with the principles of the Azerbaijan Republican Commission on International Humanitarian Aid to service communities that were ravished by war, predominantly residing IDPs, and war victims in general, Avrasiya Kredit Non-Banking Credit Organization , has continue to enlarge in its capacity. In 2012, with additional contributions to the portfolio of the organization from various financial sources, Avrasiya Kredit grew to serve more targeted population. As at the end of 2012, Avrasiya Kredit has a total of 1.877.959 AZN portfolio, benefiting 3,507 clients.
Improving on its numerous recognition, awarded with MIX Silver Certificate in 2010 and 2011 “For reporting on social indicators” to MIX Market constituted by Ford Foundation and CGAP, awarded in 2012 with a special AMFA award “The best member organization implementing its social mission”, IEPF continue to strive to ensure that in keeping with its mission, more target beneficiaries benefit from the services it renders. Moreover, also this year, Avrasia Kredit that closely cooperated with Azerbaijan Microfinance Association Avrasia Kredit was one of the sponsors of Investors Fair held in Baku 2012, by AMFA; the organization also sent senior staffs abroad to join over 150 other global microfinance institutions in the seminars: “Managing the known, the unknown and unknowable risks in Microfinance” held by EuroGrand Management; and “Business or Development, Time to Choose” held by MFC. Both seminars were relevant for the microfinance management and capacity development of the organization.
In 2012 Eurasia–Credit focused on establishing more partnership with international financial institution and develop credit portfolio to serve more affected population and low income citizens. The first attempt was reaching out to KIVA microfinance institution. In May, 2012, representatives of KIVA from San Francisco head office, made field visit to assess and evaluate the capacity of Avrasia Kredit NBCO for a possible future cooperation. During the year, besides opening up its book to KIVA for evaluation, Avrasiya-Credit also took part in the surveys of SMART Endorsement, Client Protection, Smart submission, MIX surveys SEEP forecast and joined in the reporting procedures of Matrix and Benchmark international.
4. Community Tree planting
March 04, 2012, IEPF planted 1000 trees in the IDPs settlements of Zobjuq, in Fizuli region of Azerbaijan. The ceremony that was supported by grants made available from FINCA Azerbaijan was carried out as a symbol to encourage IDPs to become environmental cautious, and also involve in replenishing of fallen trees. The Zobjuq settlements were built by the Azerbaijani government to support IDPs reintegration; however, these settlements are almost in isolations, with very few trees growing in the area because of the impact of war in the regions of Fizuli. This was why IEPF initiated the “Grow a tree to show your support for the development of our new settlement”. The idea was to give IDPs a sense of ownership, to dissuade IDPs notion of temporary occupants, but rather encourage IDPs to look towards permanent reintegration.
The Country Director for FINCA, Mr. Manish Sane took part in the tree planting and joined in sowing trees, so also the Head of Local Authority for Fizuli; the Chairman of IEPF supported in the process joined by IDPs residing in these settlements.
C. REFUGEES AND INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS ISSUES
IEPF in working with the IDPs of Azerbaijan and then Refugees and Asylum seekers, the organization maintained its partnership with the UNHCR and also the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). IEPF office made several contacts and visits to the office of the UNHCR in Azerbaijan for a meeting with the Main Representatives, the protection officers, and other program officers. During the year IEPF was invited to several functions of the UNHCR like the world refugee day celebration and also ECRE Annual General Meeting.
1. UNHCR Working Group on Livelihood for IDPs
IEPF is part of the Working Group dealing with the issues of refugees and IDPs put together by the UNHCR office. In the group IEPF identified its support towards assisting IDPs on Livelihood through programs related with vocational training and micro credits. Within the program, IEPF first assess the IDPs needs, identify IDPs who are in need of skills development and if supported, through these skills can better their living conditions. These selected IDPs are trained on vocational skills using a defined curriculum prepared for the purpose. IEPF Vocational Training Center established in 2010 in Terter is well established to provide adequate service and training for IDPs and war victims who pass through the specified trainings on carpet weaving, computer and advertisement design, agricultural practices, and bakery. These directions have made it possible for men, women and young people benefit from the services at the center.
On April 18, 2012, the main representative of UNHCR, Mr. Dag Sigurdsson, visited the Vocational Training Center in Terter to assess the place, and also familiarize with the services that the center is providing. During the visit the main representative saw firsthand IEPF activities in related spheres of providing livelihood support for the IDPs, he also observed the different mechanism that IEPF has in place, starting from training for the IDPs in various vocational skills, and then supporting the IDPs in either finding job placements, or providing them with financial credits to start up own small business. In 2012, IEPF was able to provide over 30 jobs through this process. Those who benefit from the micro credits are first of all thought small business management and then financial management; the reason is to ensure that creditors know how to maximize available funds.
2. ECRE –Dialogue on Migration and Asylum in Development
The head of programs department for IEPF travelled twice to Brussels, first in 3-4 October, and then 18 November, 2012 to participate in the ECRE project titled: Dialogue on Migration and Asylum in Development. One of the main focus of the project is to enhance cooperation and foster synergies between European NGOs members of ECRE that are active outside Europe as well as between European NGOs local CSOs in third countries. IEPF as member of the ECRE network regular supports ECRE in providing update on situations concerning refugees and asylum seekers particularly related to Azerbaijan. In order to play this function effectively, IEPF regularly meets with the relevant agencies such as IOM, UNHCR, and various local NGOs such Refugees Women Center (RWC) dealing with the issues on refugees and asylum seekers, and also with the refugee communities.
IEPF continue to emphasis the importance, and the role of media is advocacy or making prominence issues concerning refugees and asylum seekers. For IEPF, the strategy has always been to use media effectively, to ensure that decision makers and stakeholders involved in making policies at all levels affecting refugees and IDPs are adequately aware of the situations of these categories of persons.
D. PEACE-BUILDING AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
IEPF Community Mine Action Team (CMAT) continues to do mine clearance operations in Terter, Goygol and Goranboy regions of Azerbaijan. IEPF mine clearance operation is directly monitored and coordinated by the Azerbaijan National Agency on Mine Action (ANAMA), the state ageNo table of contents entries found.ncy mandated with the task. The mission of clearance team is to insure suitable mine free environment that will help the population to come back to their homeland as well as promote social-economic development of the region.
In the year 2012, the managerial staff of CMAT was involved to Senior Manager Course in Jordan coordinated by James Madison University by the support of US Department of State Bureau of Political Military affairs, Office of Weapon Removal and Abatement; also with inputs from UNDP, GICHD, Red Cross and NCDR. Other staff members of CMAT participated in the IMSMA new version, evaluation and team leaders’ trainings, conducted by ANAMA and GICHD.
Even though CMAT continues to base its operation in Terter regions of Azerbaijan, it has made significant expansion of its operation in neighboring Goyol and Goranboy regions. In 2012, CMAT cleared a total of 6.563.000 million sq. meters of land, in the process, 17 mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) were identified.
As is always the practice, IEPF in 2012 implemented Mine Risk Education in communities during the non-operational days. MRE specialists and CMAT also conducted Mine Risk Education (MRE) in more than 20 villages of Terter and Goranboy. MRE assisted in identifying 30 mines and ERW.
The Azerbaijan Mine Victim Association (AMVA), a body created by IEPF for the mine victims of Azerbaijan, in 2012 continued to assist its members. About 15 mine victims were assisted with various problems in the areas of legal, medical, and financial assistance. AMVA executives made several visits to the regions where there are active branches; also outreach meetings were held at Agdam. As already stated, during the implementation of the project on expansion and diversification of the VTC Cooperative Farm, AMVA directly applied to the ANAMA victim assistance program, and through the support from ANAMA, the VTC Farm was able to acquire cows. These activities directly benefit the mine victims because all farm workers at the VTC Farm, animal sector, are members of the association.
IEPF is open for volunteers who would like to get experience working in the activity directions of the organization. In 2012 several individuals volunteered with various departments of IEPF. IEPF staffs were involved and assisted in conducting several capacity developmental trainings for the volunteers.
Based on the Memorandum of Understanding entered between IEPF and the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany; the MOU entails that student of the department have internship in IEPF, as a requirement for their degree studies. Additionally, Institutional training on voluntary level was carried out for the following:
The department of International relations of the Baku Slavic University;
The department of Regional Studies of the Baku State University; and
Members of the Baku International Students Club, a national NGO registered in Azerbaijan.
INTERNATIONAL EURASIA PRESS FUND(IEPF) ANNUAL REPORT 2012