Serious concerns over Azerbaijan hosting COP29 while it continues to detain prominent critic of its corrupt fossil fuel industry

Press release

9 December 2023 – Azerbaijan’s abysmal record of cracking down on peaceful civil society – including the continued detention of academic and activist, Dr Gubad Ibadoghlu – raises serious concerns about the country’s suitability to host a global event such as COP29, where building consensus to negotiate the deals the world’s survival requires is imperative, says Publish What You Pay.

Joe Bardwell, Director of Communications & Campaigns, PWYP, said “The world will need more action to phase out fossil fuels at COP29 and, as a major oil producer, Azerbaijan will need to listen to its critics. The continued, inhumane detention of prominent activist and academic for oil industry accountability, Dr Gubad Ibadoghlu, shows that Azerbaijani authorities are simply not prepared to take criticism.” 

Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu was violently detained on 23rd July 2023 under fabricated charges seemingly aimed at stifling his peaceful criticism of the Azerbaijani government. Dr Ibadoghlu’s health has rapidly declined and his family has stated that he has been denied essential treatment for serious medical conditions. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been denied permission to visit him.

Kate Watters, Executive Director of Crude Accountability, said “Azerbaijan should not be considered to host the next COP climate talks while it is detaining critics of its corrupt fossil-fuel industry, including Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu, a prominent academic and anti-corruption activist who has been arbitrarily detained in Azerbaijan’s prison system since July 23, 2023. Dr. Ibadoghlu is being held in inhumane conditions, denied access to medication, and charged with trumped-up allegations. Until he and Azerbaijan’s other political prisoners are released, the country should not be considered to host COP.”

Governments and civil society across the world, including the US Department of State and the OSCE, have condemned the actions of the Azerbaijani authorities and demanded the immediate release of Dr. Ibadoghlu. The European Union adopted a joint motion on 14th September demanding an impartial investigation. Oil giant, BP, has also been criticised for its failure to use its influence in the country to call publicly for Dr. Ibadoghl’s release.

“Dr Ibadoghlu’s arrest in July is yet another example of Azerbaijan stifling critical voices and independent civil society. We can’t let Azerbaijan use COP29 to distract from its abysmal record on freedom of speech and human rights. All member states and organisations participating must start pressing the country to ensure the meaningful participation of Azerbaijani and international civil society. Azerbaijani authorities can show their commitment to this right now by releasing Dr Ibadoghlu” added Bardwell.


About PWYP

  • Publish What You Pay is a network of over a thousand civil society organisations from more than 50 countries campaigning for a fairer, cleaner energy future.


  • Joe Bardwell, Director of Communications & Campaigns at PWYP, +44 (0) 7570 270657, [email protected]
  • Gubad’s son, Ibad Ibad Bayramov, is available to speak to journalists, contact Joe to arrange
  • Kate Watters, Executive Director of Crude Accountability, 571-332-5895, [email protected]
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