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Gender and Land Rights Database

Azerbaijan

Prevailing systems of land tenure

- According to the 1991 Law No. 256-XII on Property, property might be state,   collective or private property, as in Article 4 Part II.

- The 1996 Law on Land Reform specified three forms of land ownership: state, municipal and private. During the land reform process, the land of inhabited localities, pastures near villages, land allocated for possible development of the inhabited localities and land of little or no agricultural value were transferred to municipal ownership. Land used by the state − namely land under state institutions, pipelines, railways and main roads, water and forest resources and summer and winter pastures − remained under state ownership (15).

- According to the same law, which distributed all the land traditionally held by large collectives to rural households, land was transferred into private title for free. As a result, more than 3.5 million people became owners of land. A title holder could freely sell, exchange, will, let or mortgage the land (19).

- Private ownership includes parcels legally used by citizens – such as land under residential houses – household parcels, individual, collective and cooperative gardens, land under management of state-owned “dachas” and privatized land of state and collective farms.

- In 2004, as a result of reform,  4.92 million ha, or 56.9 percent of total land, remained in state ownership, 2.05 million ha, or 23.7 percent of total land, were in municipal ownership and 1.67 million ha, or 19.4 percent of total land, were privatized (20).
In 2004, 98.1 percent of eligible families – 866 678 families out of 872 855 eligible families – had land (20).

- IDPs and refugees did not receive land and other agricultural assets in the farm privatization process. Although about 57 percent of all IDPs and refugee households in rural areas have access to some land, the average land size per household member is 0.09 hectares per capita, which is considerably lower than the rural average of 0.3 hectares (21).
After adoption of a governmental decree in 2000, about 20 000 IDPs temporarily settled in rural areas and rented from municipalities about 60 000 hectares of land for temporary use (21).

- The 1998 Law on Lease of Land No.587-IG establishes that state, municipal and private land can be leased. Citizens, legal entities and foreigners are allowed to lease land. Leases can be for short-term or long-term use and lease fees may be paid in cash or in kind (20).

National and local institutions enforcing land regulations

- The State Commission on Agrarian Reform, established by the 1995 Presidential Decree No. 313, is responsible for carrying out agrarian reform. It performs the following functions:
i. elaborates the agrarian reform programme;
ii. examines and validates territorial land reform programmes;
iii. elaborates instructions and  recommendations for implementing land reform;
iv. informs the population on the advancement of land reform.

- The State Commission on Land Reform established regional and local bodies throughout the country to assist in the reform process (21).

Land administration institutions and women quotas

- The State Land Cadastre and the State Land Registry regulates the organization and management of the land cadastre, monitoring of lands and land use organization within a unified land fund, in accordance with the 1998 Law on State Land Cadastre, Land Monitoring and Land Use Organization.

- The 1999 Land Code states that rights in land parcels must be registered in the State Land Cadastre and the State Land Registry. Unregistered rights are not protected by the state (15).

- The State Land and Mapping Committee is the government agency in charge of facilitating  the registration of transactions. Preparation, registration and presentation of documents about the right to a property, its use and rent are done through the regional land registration centres of the State Land and Mapping Committee (20).

- The State Register Service of Real Estate is responsible for registration of all real estate and land parcels, under the Cabinet of Ministers, as provided for by the 2004 Law on State Register of Real Estate.
This body governs the procedure for registration of ownership rights in immovable and other property rights, creation, limitation – encumbrance – and transfer of property rights (15).

The Cabinet of Ministers is responsible for managing state lands. These lands can be given for permanent use only to state bodies and organizations, including local self-government bodies, and to enterprises and companies which are financed from the state or municipal budget (15).

Funding provisions to guarantee women’s land transactions

- Agricultural land is freely transferable, according to the 1996 Law on Land Reform. The law laid the foundation of the land market. According to Article 19, privatizable municipal reserve lands and land plots owned by citizens and juridical persons can be the subject of purchase and sale contracts. Foreign juridical persons are explicitly excluded from land transactions (20).
No explicit non-discrimination clauses are stated.

- The 1999 Law on Land Markets No.665-IG states that legal entities and persons can participate in the land market as owners, users, mortgage lenders and borrowers, and as participants in purchase and sale transactions and other transactions like leasing. Foreigners, natural and legal persons are explicitly excluded from purchase of land (20).
No explicit non-discrimination clauses are stated.

- To address the problem of underdeveloped financial services, which have impeded rural development, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing support to increase bank and microfinance activities in rural areas and communities outside Baku. This assistance follows from the recent decree for the development of regions outside Baku, is listed as a specific measure for poverty alleviation and has been accorded high priority by the government (10).

Other factors influencing gender differentiated land rights

- After independence, women faced the loss of employment within the formal sector and access to social services. This was a consequence of the dismantling of the former state collective farms, on which many rural women were formally employed and which offered them an infrastructure of support services (10).
Therefore, while women have, in principle, retained equality in all fields through their constitutional rights, in reality they are losing much of their economic and personal autonomy. At the same time, women are dealing with the reassertion of traditional male authority within the household (3).

- Unofficial marriages, including early marriages, result in a decrease of women’s share of property (19).

- Under the land privatization process, although each family member was allotted a plot of land, many women left their allotment in the parental family upon marriage and did not gain a lot in the new family (19).

- Although the State Commission on Land Reform asserts that 90 percent of titles have been issued, many household farmers have not received their land titles. This problem is because distribution is through local authorities, who often delay the distribution of titles to farmers (21).

- In order to implement free transfer of public property, all citizens were issued a share in privatized public property, which was called a privatization voucher. A 2005 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) survey showed that 72.5 percent of women and 67.5 percent of men in the survey sample simply sold their privatization “shares”; 2.7 percent of women and 4.2 percent of men invested their vouchers as actual shares in privatized property; 22.2 percent of women and 26.4 percent of men did not know how to use vouchers they received.
The survey also showed that about 52 percent of women after divorce left their privatization coupons to their former husbands and about the same percentage of women entering into marriage left their coupons to their parents. These women were deprived of economic rights to own a share in the national property (19).

- Most women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operate on a very limited budget and are only able to undertake activities with the support of volunteers. Lack of financial and human resources has limited the extent to which many of these organizations have been able to plan and implement broader-based training and capacity-building programmes (10).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography