• Press Release

Global: Host Country Agreement with Azerbaijan for COP29 Must Guarantee Human Rights and Be Publicly Available

July 7, 2024

(Aziz Karimov/Getty Images)

The UN organizers of the COP29 climate summit in November must ensure the Host Country Agreement (HCA) with the Azerbaijan authorities contains human rights safeguards and that it is made publicly accessible immediately after it is signed so potential attendees can assess the risks they face at the event, Amnesty International said today.

Despite repeated attempts, Amnesty International only recently obtained the Host Country Agreement (HCA) for last year’s COP between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Arab Emirates. This HCA had significant shortcomings and ambiguities in the rights protections it afforded to participants in Dubai, heightening concerns that an agreement with the Azerbaijan government will similarly fall short of fully protecting human rights and civic space at COP29 and will also not be publicly available ahead of the summit.

Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Climate Policy Advisor, said: 

“The Host Country Agreement between the UNFCCC and the Azerbaijan authorities must contain guarantees that all human rights are protected and respected, both inside and outside the event space. These include the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. This is particularly important, as the Azerbaijan authorities regularly clamp down on criticism and have recently intensified their crackdown on dissent by detaining journalists, human rights defenders and climate rights activists such as Anar Mammadli. We are urging his release, as well as the release of all others unjustly detained by the authorities.

“Given the egregious human rights violations committed by Azerbaijan’s government, it is vital that the Host Country Agreement struck with the UNFCCC is made public immediately after signing so it can be scrutinized to assess the extent to which civic space at COP29 is protected. The UNFCCC Secretariat should publish all past and future HCAs on its website in the interests of transparency and widely disseminate information about their publication. Azerbaijan, as a party to the Aarhus Convention on disclosure of public information, should also publish the agreement.”

Amnesty International has documented how previous COP climate summits, including those in Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have involved restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Amnesty International has also recorded severe violations of these and other rights in Azerbaijan, raising concerns about the safety and security of participants at this year’s COP, which will be held in Baku from 11 to 22 November.


A Host Country Agreement sets out arrangements for an international meeting between the organizers and the host country authorities, including any immunities and privileges applicable beyond national laws, and is normally finalized months before an event. At the Bonn Climate Conference in June last year, states highlighted the importance of including human rights in Host Country Agreements at climate COPs, and said HCAs should be made public.

Amnesty International repeatedly sought to obtain the HCA for COP28 shortly after it was signed in August 2023, via the UN Treaty system, on the advice of the UNFCCC Secretariat and from the Secretariat itself, including at COP28. After multiple requests, the UNFCCC Secretariat finally provided a copy to Amnesty International in June 2024.

Although the COP28 Agreement did provide immunity from legal process for all participants in relation to what they said or did at COP28, it is undermined by a requirement that participants had a duty to respect UAE laws and not interfere in its internal affairs, which could have opened them up to reprisals once they left the zone. The only human right referred to in the COP28 HCA is the right to privacy. Parties to the 1998 Aarhus Convention must guarantee the rights of access to information about environmental decision making.

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