Human rights are at the heart of any post-COVID recovery
EU marks Human Rights Day by signing new USD 3-million joint project with UNDP and OHCHR
TBILISI. 9 December 2020 – Amid concerns that the COVID-19 crisis is deepening inequality and jeopardizing the prospects of vulnerable and marginalised groups, the European Union (EU) joined forces today with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to launch a EUR 2.5 million (USD 3 million) programme to promote and protect human rights in Georgia.
The three-year initiative “Human Rights for All” was signed to mark International Human Rights Day. The programme will be implemented by the two UN agencies in close coordination with the national human rights institutions and legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as civil society and communities.
“Investing in human rights, democracy and the rule of law is essential to achieve more fair, more resilient and inclusive societies,“ said EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell. “Human rights, democracy and the rule of law, as well as a gender-responsive approach, will remain at the heart of the EU’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Georgia has come a long way in enacting the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “But the pandemic has exposed cracks in society that threaten these values. Our programme responds by putting inclusion and equality at the heart of any post-COVID recovery.”
“Today we stress the imperative to build back better by making human rights central to recovery efforts,” said OHCHR Senior Adviser Vladimir Shkolnikov. “We will reach our common global goals only if we create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.”
The new programme launched by the EU, UNDP and OHCHR assists Georgia in reinforcing its achievements in promoting and strengthening human rights policies and practices, and addressing the areas of concern outlined by the independent assessment commissioned by the EU and the UN in 2019.
The programme focuses on five areas:
- Enhancing the public bodies that are responsible for developing, monitoring and implementing human rights policies;
- Assisting law-enforcement agencies and human rights institutions in carrying out their duties;
- Promoting the rights of minority groups and vulnerable citizens;
- Supporting human rights protection at the local level; and
- Ensuring that citizens have full access to human rights information and protection mechanisms.
Human Rights for All builds on the achievements of a previous four-year partnership between the EU and the UN agencies. The new stage of the programme runs from December 2020 through October 2023.
Press release of the European Union in Georgia
International Youth Day – Finding your place in society
EU and UNDP help introduce youth work in schools and vocational colleges
TBILISI. 12 August 2022 – On the path to creating a high-performing educational system, Georgia introduces new educational models and tools to inspire young people to study hard and strive for professional success. These efforts aim to improve youth education and close the gaps between Georgia and the European countries in the areas related to youth participation and engagement.
For now, around 34 percent of Georgian youth are not engaged in employment, education or training (NEET), compared to 13 percent on average in the EU. Youth unemployment in some of Georgia’s regions exceeds 40 percent (13.3 percent on average in the EU). Only five percent of Georgian secondary school graduates choose to enter vocational education programmes (48 percent in the EU).
To help Georgia make education more responsive to the needs and aspirations of young people, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support the Ministry of Education and Science to introduce a concept of youth work in schools and vocational colleges. The initiative is implemented in partnership with ‘Sunny House’, a non-governmental youth organization.
In 2022, a new cohort of 18 youth workers went through professional training to join nine schools and vocational colleges across Georgia. Youth workers took a lead in establishing youth clubs at the educational institutions and arranging non-formal learning programmes.
In July and August, over 100 young people – high-school or college students, engaged in enjoyable and interactive educational activities organised by youth workers with EU and UNDP support.
In Kachreti, ‘Aisi’ community college grounds turned into a magical world of lost treasures where students had to show their physical and intellectual abilities and team-working skills to win the game.
In Kobuleti, young people will enjoy a rare opportunity to discuss generational challenges with well-known Georgian writers. The discussion will be organised and hosted by the youth club at ‘Akhali Talga’ (‘New Wave’) college.
“The European Union helps strengthen links between formal education and non-formal learning to ensure that young people have access to high-quality education and training and improve their transition from education to employment,” said Nino Kochishvili, Programme Officer at the European Union Delegation to Georgia.
“Getting more young people into employment – jobs that pay well, with real career paths ahead – is a big social and economic opportunity for Georgia. The EU and UNDP join hands with our national partners to curate new and more effective youth education and training programmes. Greater youth employment creates a brighter future for young people and contributes to developing a larger and more dynamic economy for everyone’s benefit,” said Nick Beresford, UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia.
“We shape our work around the single most important goal – to help young people build skills they need to establish their place in society. Youth work blends formal and informal education to make the educational process richer and more effective,” said youth worker Tamuna Khalichashvili.
Starting from the new academic year in September, nine youth clubs across Georgia will resume their work to continue supporting young people in their personal development and social integration.
The EU and UNDP support draws on the EU-funded US$1,000,000 programme which contributes to creating new educational services in vocational education and training (VET), ensuring the sustainable and inclusive development of the VET system and the labour market. The programme is implemented in close partnership with Georgia’s Ministry of Education and Science, educational institutions and the private sector.
Georgian villages appear on Google Maps with EU and UNDP support
Over 50 rural locations are pinpointed on Georgia’s AgroMap, created jointly by the EU, UNDP and Georgian Farmers’ Association.
The map is a Google-based interactive information system and contains extensive data on agricultural enterprises, service providers, educational institutions, professional associations and other actors in the agricultural and food sector. In addition to private companies and non-governmental organisations, AgriMap also identifies government programmes and initiatives that support agricultural entrepreneurship.
Users can search for information by location or industry and contact specific companies to pose their business queries. They can also evaluate the quality of the information received and the effectiveness of the interaction.
The AgroMap was launched in 2020 through a pilot initiative focused on the Dedoplistskaro Municipality. For now, the resource lists over 50 locations across Georgia and offers information on 500 companies and organisations, arranged by 24 activity sectors.
“Digitalisation has the potential to transform rural living by making farming jobs more attractive for younger generations and helping farmers work more precisely, efficiently and sustainably,” said Ketevan Khutsishvili, from the EU Delegation to Georgia.
EU and UNDP support for rural development in Georgia is based on the EU-funded ENPARD programme with a total budget of €234.5 million.
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Learning human rights to make a difference in Georgia
The European Union and the United Nations are working in partnership to equip Georgia’s public and civic sectors with real-world, practical insights into human rights protection, organising a series of trainings last month for public servants, civic activists and journalists.
The trainings brought together representatives of state institutions, media, professional associations and civil society, and focused on the available tools and mechanisms to ensure respect for human rights in all areas.
On 15-16 July, a training session for journalists, carried out in partnership with the Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, addressed the impact of misinformation and disinformation on protecting the rights of ethnic and national minorities. The training programme highlighted the critical role of the media in combating hate speech and fake news and providing the public with reliable and trustworthy information.
On 17-18 July, lawyers from the Legal Aid Service and the Georgian Bar Association participated in a training on the rights of people with disabilities. They discussed international standards in protecting disability rights and the challenges faced by people with disabilities in Georgia in getting access to justice.
On 19-20 July, human rights activists and representatives of organisations engaged in protecting the rights of LGBTQI+ persons learned how to prepare and submit alternative reports and communications to the UN human rights Treaty Bodies and how to use the UN human rights mechanisms for advocacy and strategic litigation.
Finally, on 28-29 July, representatives of Georgia’s Public Defender’s Office discussed how better to protect the right to health in Georgia, and refreshed their knowledge of international standards in this area.
“At UNDP, we deeply believe that respect for human rights is the foundation of democracy,” said Anna Chernyshova, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia. “A democratic society is primarily assessed by how it protects the rights of minorities and not just the rights of the majority. With this in mind, we join hands with the European Union and our partners to assist journalists, lawyers, civic activists and the LGBTQI+ communities to better understand and more effectively protect human rights, ensuring that no one is left behind.”
The European Union and the United Nations, through their ‘Human Rights for All’ programme, promote a human rights culture in Georgia and help increase public awareness of human rights values and principles. Working with a wide range of local and international partners, the EU and the UN seek to ensure that all citizens can enjoy the rights and freedoms safeguarded by Georgia’s Constitution and major policy documents in line with the country’s national priorities and international commitments under the Association Agreement with the European Union, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN human rights treaties.
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Social Justice Center from Georgia named winner of the 2022 Max van der Stoel Award
THE HAGUE, 26 July 2022 – The Social Justice Center (SJC) from Georgia has been selected as the winner of the 2022 Max van der Stoel Award. The Award recognizes its work to support and empower vulnerable groups, including national minorities, in Georgia.
Since its foundation in 2012, the SJC (formerly Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre) has worked towards long-term political and socio-economic transformation in Georgia, thereby putting the principles of human rights, equality and solidarity into practice. The SJC gives a voice to minority ethnic and religious groups, and supports their interests, with an emphasis on youth and women.
Commenting on its decision, the international Jury, chaired by OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov, stated: “This non-governmental organization advances equality, solidarity, participation and democracy at the political, economic and social levels through programmes such as the Social Policy Programme, the Equality Policy Programme and the Justice and Democracy Programme. This has resulted in community organizations and campaigns to promote the interests of national minorities.
“Acknowledging its activism and courage as it tirelessly advocates for equality for all social groups in Georgia, the Jury took the unanimous decision to reward the SJC with the 2022 Max van der Stoel Award.”
The Award of 50,000 euros was established by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001 in honour of the distinguished Dutch statesman and first OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel. It is awarded biennially to recognize a person, group or institution for extraordinary and outstanding achievements in improving the position of national minorities in the OSCE participating States.
The Award ceremony will take place in The Hague on 17 November 2022.
Georgia should ensure effective implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation and improve protection of human rights in the fields of labour and the environment
Strasbourg, 15 July 2022 - The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, published today the report following her visit to Georgia in February 2022, with recommendations on combating discrimination against LGBTI people and those belonging to religious minorities, as well as protecting human rights in the fields of labour and the environment.
To ensure that LGBTI people and persons belonging to religious minorities live free from violence and discrimination, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to address the inadequate implementation of legal standards and the persistent deficiencies in combating impunity for hate crimes and incitement to violence, and to remove the discriminatory barriers to the enjoyment of their rights.
The Commissioner notes that LGBTI people remain affected by instances of hate crime and pervasive discrimination in Georgia. She calls on the authorities to step up efforts to combat impunity for human rights violations against them and stresses that raising awareness among the public and training relevant categories of professionals on the importance of their role in promoting equality, dignity and non-discrimination should be a priority. She adds that hate speech against LGBTI people in the public sphere is an issue of concern and that an appropriate response to hate speech, including when voiced by officials, religious and community leaders and media professionals, is needed through an effective use of law enforcement channels and other mechanisms, such as prevention, monitoring, self-regulation, and counter-speech. In light of repeated occurrence of LGBTI people having been denied their right to peaceful assembly, the Commissioner stresses that authorities should adopt comprehensive measures enabling LGBTI people to freely express their views and assemble. Regarding transgender people, the authorities should facilitate legal gender recognition without invasive medical requirements and in a quick, transparent, and accessible manner.
As regards religious minorities, the Commissioner urges the authorities to ensure effective investigation, prosecution, and dissuasive and proportionate sanctioning for hate crimes committed on the grounds of religion and to remove discriminatory barriers in accessing places of worship and in regulating tax and religious property matters. “An open dialogue with all religious communities should be established”, she stated. To support this dialogue, she underlines the need for a meaningful partnership between competent authorities and religious denominations, for changes to the relevant regulations and for continuous training and awareness raising activities targeting officials and the general public. In addition, the Commissioner notes that the authorities should pursue their efforts in eliminating religious biases and stereotyping from school textbooks.
Noting that a decade of deregulation and the abolishment of the labour Inspectorate in 2006 led to a significant deterioration in the protection of labour rights in Georgia, the Commissioner welcomes the recent comprehensive legal and institutional reforms and urges the authorities to close the remaining legislative gaps by establishing a minimum wage compliant with international standards, by ensuring equal access to parental leave, and by developing clear guidelines on the duration and compensation for overtime work. “It is now important to ensure a full implementation of the labour standards, including the anti-discrimination provisions”, she stated. To this end, it is crucial to provide the Labour Inspectorate with sufficient and adequately trained human resources and an appropriate budget. While welcoming recent progress in the reduction of workplace accidents, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to further improve occupational safety at the workplace. She also recommends promoting and supporting diversity and equality at work, including with regard to the integration of persons with disabilities. The Commissioner further recommends that the authorities address the gender pay gap and gender stereotypes in employment, to continuously raise awareness about sexual harassment, ways to report it and available remedies, as well as to take resolute action to address child labour and prevent and combat child trafficking.
As regards human rights and the environment, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to strengthen the implementation of the existing national legal framework, to guarantee public access to information and meaningful and transparent public participation in environmental decision-making processes at various levels of government, as well as to improve air quality and the tracking of air pollution. They should also develop and implement preventive measures to reduce the risk of environmental disasters and to ensure protection of the rights of people displaced by such disasters or owing to climate change. The authorities should also provide a safe and enabling environment for environmental human rights defenders and activists and support their work
- Read the Commissioner's report following her visit to Georgia in February 2022
- Read the comments of the authorities of Georgia on the report
- Watch the report in a nutshell