Mediation Developments in Azerbaijan
While historically similar concepts existed in Azerbaijan, the modern definition of mediation is a new concept, and is not widely understood. There is no official regulatory act or law regulating mediation, or providing a formal definition of mediation in Azerbaijan. No legislation provides any specific benefits or safeguards for parties who decide to use mediation to resolve a dispute.
Currently, very few providers of mediation services exist in Azerbaijan, and most mediators are not full-time. Bank Ombudsman, established under the Azerbaijan Bank Association, renders ombudsman services similar to mediation for the resolution of disputes between banks and their clients. The ARBME Dispute Resolution Center has recently started offering mediation services for commercial disputes. While syllabi of law schools and other institutions sometimes include courses on alternative dispute resolution, there are no mediation accreditation courses in Azerbaijan.
Recently, the extremely large volume of cases filed in the courts in Azerbaijan has provoked interest by the government in promoting mediation as a solution. A new law on mediation has been drafted and is being discussed in Azerbaijan. In addition, the European Union and the World Bank have financed two separate projects in Azerbaijan to assess mediation needs and implement a court-annexed pilot mediation project.
The “Strategic Roadmap on the National Economy and Major Industries of Economy” approved by a Presidential Decree distinguishes the importance of mediation among alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for small and medium-sized businesses and sets three main objectives by 2020:
- Drafting a law on mediation
- Establishing a Mediation Council
Accomplishing two-fold improvements of indicators of pre-court dispute settlement by small and medium-sized businesses
It is expected that by 2020, mediation in Azerbaijan will gain popularity and wider acceptance.
By Ruslan Mirzayev, Senior Fellow-Azerbaijan, Weinstein International Foundation.