Strengthening participatory democracy and human rights at local level in Georgia
The project's intended impact is: Georgian citizens benefited from improved public services delivery by local authorities as well as through strengthened public influence on decision-making at local level as a result of a human rights-based approach.
The project's expected outcomes are:
Outcome 1: An improved regulatory framework for civil participation has been developed and piloted by civil society and local authorities.
Outcome 2: Local authorities and the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) are strengthened to integrate and implement human rights standards and practices in their policies and strategies, and to advocate human rights in Georgia as fully-fledged partners.
Outcome 3: In selected municipalities social inclusion and equal opportunities for all are improved; a gender perspective is incorporated in local political action, and discrimination is eliminated.
The project will target local authorities in ten municipalities and will engage 3,000 direct beneficiaries. The direct beneficiaries of the project will be:
• 400 local elected representatives and municipal staff as duty-bearers at local level who participate in capacity development activities;
• 2,600 civil society actors, including women, youth and vulnerable groups (i.e. minorities, IDPs, etc.) whose participation in decision-making processes is facilitated and supported.
Under Outcome 1, the project will support pilot city councils in developing regulatory frameworks and practices; strengthen the capacity and awareness of public officials and civil society as well as local population in participatory decision-making; facilitate co-operation among stakeholders on selected policy areas through interactive CivicLAb workshops; engage local authorities, civil society representatives and citizens in implementation of infrastructural and development projects; establish effective dialogue platforms around policy areas to support planning and implementation of regional and local development strategies and action plans.
Under Outcome 2, the project will strengthen the capacities of local authorities, citizens and NALAG to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in partnership with the Public Defender of Georgia and based on Council of Europe standards; support the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia in creating a sustainably working platform of municipalities to enhance the dialogue on human rights with national stakeholders and civil society organisations, and to advocate specific local needs and challenges in human rights.
Under Outcome 3, the project will support selected municipalities in adopting/reviewing and implementing local action plans to increase gender equality and the inclusion of underrepresented groups, with a special focus on minorities, IDPs and other vulnerable groups; support municipalities in adopting/reviewing and implementing local policies and practices to prevent and combat discrimination, enabling equal participation and representation in local decision-making, and considering different sensibilities and needs; facilitate setting up a pool of educators to carry out educational and awareness-raising activities on local democracy and human rights for young people to ensure continuous learning and sustainability.
The project reflects several of the priorities of Georgia identified in the Government programme for 2019-2020, notably those mirrored on Human Rights; on Youth Policy; and on Public Administration.
It also addresses the gaps identified by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Recommendation 426 (2018) and its explanatory memorandum on local and regional democracy in Georgia, as well as the conclusions and recommendations of the 2015-2017 Council of Europe Project on civil participation in decision-making in the Eastern Partnership Countries. The project will support the implementation of Georgia’s Decentralisation Strategy 2020-2025, in line with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
Georgia implements its National Strategy for the Protection of Human Rights for 2014-2020 and its Action Plan, and the State Strategy for Civic Equality and Integration and its Action Plan for 2015-2020. The adoption of the Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination in 2014 has created an enabling environment to implement anti-discrimination policies. Furthermore, the constitutional reforms of 2018, which legally and formally recognise Georgia as a social state, confer on the national and local authorities the responsibility to protect social rights.
The project reflects also three of the four priorities of the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (November 2019 – May 2020): Promoting human rights and their interrelation with environmental protection, increasing civil participation in decision-making, and strengthening democracy through education and youth engagement.