The EU Integration Committee held the meeting on “Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy in Georgia”
EU Integration Committee organized the EU and UNDP supported working meeting in Borjomi on Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy in Georgia.
The meeting is participated by the Committee Members and Committee Staff, as well as the representatives of the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, the Legal Issues, the Health Care and Social Issues, the Human Rights and Civil Integration and the Foreign Relations Committees, as well as the experts, Ivane Chkhikvadze and Adam Lazovski.
The participants are to consider Georgia-EU cooperation framework and strategic directions, as well as the role of the Parliament in EUAA implementation. The participants will hear about the experience of EU member and candidate states, the findings by the experts and the recommendations. As well as, the participants will develop the joint action plan.
President Zourabichvili visits Kvareli Euroclub to mark its 4th anniversary
On 28 November 2023, the Kvareli EuroClub in Georgia marked its four-year anniversary with an official ceremony and a public fair, the ‘EuroClub Village’.
The special event was organised as part of the ‘MORE EU in GEORGIA’ public outreach activities of the Young European Ambassadors (YEAs), with financial support of the EU NEIGHBOURS east regional communication programme, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Norway.
The official ceremony was attended by Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, Nicholas Cendrowicz, the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Georgia, Anna Chernyshova, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia, as well as the ambassadors of Austria, Czech Republic, Ukraine, US, UK and Estonia and the representatives of France, Poland, Denmark, Norway, and NATO.
The Kvareli EuroClub was founded by Young European Ambassador Nika Gurini in November 2019, with the support of the European Commission, DG NEAR, through the EU NEIGHBOURS EAST programme. In the four years since then, more than 2,000 young people have benefited from the different projects and activities organised by the EuroClub.
The main mission of the EuroClub is to create a space for young people to interact and learn, to have access to non-formal education, and to stimulate civic activism at the community level.
“Such an initiative is exactly what our country needs the most in order to achieve our goal – the European road of Ilia [Chavchavadze], and for this, everyone’s involvement is necessary,” President Zourabichvili said in Kvareli. “The government, leaders, they come and go, but society remains, and society, if it is sure of itself, if society really knows what kind of future it wants, what it wants for its children, for the next generation, then that society will achieve its own, and it all starts in the city, village, community, all the initiatives started from there are the strongest.”
Photo credit: UNDP/Gela Bedianashvili
Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls
This joint statement is issued by the United Nations system in Georgia, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia, and the Embassies to Georgia of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, we call for action to end violence against women and girls in all its forms – from sexual harassment and abuse to child marriage and femicide. Globally, nearly one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once, the majority of them assaulted by their husband or partner. In Georgia, violence against women and girls remains a critical problem despite decisive steps taken by the government and civil society to combat these horrific human rights violations. Such violence is rooted in gender inequality and is in turn further perpetuating discrimination of women and girls. As a result, our societies are less peaceful and less just, and our economies are less prosperous.
Eliminating violence against women and girls will require strengthening and enforcing legislation and policies to protect their rights and to promote gender equality, to ensure full protection and support to survivors of violence, and to end impunity for all perpetrators. To make this happen, it is vital to raise awareness and promote women’s leadership at every stage of decision-making. We especially emphasize the urgent need to take concrete steps in order to eliminate violence against women in politics, which prevents women’s meaningful participation in Georgian democracy. According to the latest data, 54 per cent of female candidates have experienced physical, psychological, economic, or sexual violence and harassment during their election campaigns or political careers. Sexist hate speech is often used against women politicians in social media, including attacks based on their gender identity, appearance, intellectual abilities, and moral criteria.
Economic violence is one of the most hidden forms of violence in Georgia, forcing the victim to stay with the perpetrator. Challenges remain in reducing the gender pay gap, women’s equal access to financial resources, inheritance rights, employment opportunities, recognizing and redistributing unpaid and care work. Improving child protection systems, access to education and adolescent-friendly health services is of paramount importance to combat violence against girls.
We call on all stakeholders, including political parties, the government, civil society organizations and the media to work towards a future where women are empowered to participate fully and equally in economic, social and political life, without fear of violence or harassment.
 Facts and figures: Ending violence against women, available at: https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures
 Violence Against Women in Politics in Georgia, available at: https://georgia.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2023/08/violence-against-women-in-politics-in-georgia
 Election Monitoring Report: Sexism and Gender Stereotypes in Social Media, available at: https://www.undp.org/georgia/publications/gender-bias-social-media-2020
 In 2022 the adjusted hourly gender pay gap equaled 15.4%. The same indicator calculated at the monthly level equaled 23.0%, available at: https://www.geostat.ge/media/57459/Adjusted-gender-pay-gap---2022.pdf
EU and UN Showcase Success of EUR 5.1 Million Initiative for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia
On 14 November, 10:00 am, at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel (First Republic Square, Tbilisi), the European Union and the United Nations will present the accomplishments of their EUR 5.1 million initiative, "EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia".
Over five years, from 2019 to 2023, this landmark programme had a profound impact on the business development landscape in Georgia. It supported significant strides in advancing the circular economy, fostering robust business clusters, enhancing legislative frameworks, and boosting Georgian producers' presence in European markets.
With financial support from the European Union, the programme was implemented in close partnership with the Georgian Government and the private sector, with the active involvement of four UN agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
- Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia
- Genadi Arveladze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia
- Vladimer Konstantinidi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
- Douglas Webb, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Georgia
- Javier Sanz Alvarez, FAO Programme Coordinator
- Giorgi Andguladze, UNIDO National Project Coordinator
- Sanja Celebic Lukovac, IOM Chief of Mission
- Representatives from the private sector and business clusters
Statement of the United Nations in Georgia regarding the draft laws on amendments to the Tobacco Control Law
The UN in Georgia maintains that the draft laws initiated in the Georgian Parliament on October 16, 2023 is damaging to public health. The proposed changes seek to exclude heated tobacco products from standardized packaging regulations, extend the sale of tobacco products with old packaging for another eight months, and modify the requirement to display brand and variant information in the state language of Georgia, by allowing also display in English.
Protecting public health and effective tobacco control policy are paramount. Governments must act to protect public health policies from tobacco industry interference as per Art. 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Allowing these changes would prioritize the financial interests of tobacco companies over the interest of public health.
Almost one-third of adults and a substantial portion of adolescents and young people in Georgia are using tobacco. Tobacco-related direct healthcare costs and indirect costs due to premature mortality and disability and workplace costs exceed 800 million GEL annually, with the number of deaths surpassing 11,000. Addressing this situation necessitates long-term and steadfast implementation of comprehensive and effective tobacco control policies. Georgia took a positive step with the adoption of strong tobacco control legislation in 2017, which yielded initial results through effective implementation. However, to achieve a sustained reduction in tobacco use rates and mitigate its catastrophic impact, full implementation and further strengthening of tobacco control legislation and state policies are required.
Standardized packaging regulations under the new tobacco control legislation were originally intended to take effect on January 1, 2018, then unfortunately postponed to December 31, 2022, and subsequently extended once more to July 1, 2024. This delay and other proposed changes are unjustifiable and further delays the demonstrable benefits that plain packaging provides.
As of today, many countries in Europe and globally have demonstrated that plain packaging is an effective tobacco control measure. It reduces the appeal of tobacco products, enhances the impact of health warnings, diminishes consumer deception, and ultimately reduces tobacco consumption rates.
We urge the Parliament of Georgia to reject the proposed changes and we hope that it will continue the policy announced at the highest level in the field of health protection and tobacco control, protect the legislation from the interests of the tobacco industry, including the implementation of standardized packaging of tobacco products.
 UNDP/WHO/NCDC Tobacco Control Investment Case study, 2017
New Research Promotes Access to Environmental Justice in Georgia
Germany and UNDP Support the Right to a Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment
TBILISI. 30 October 2023 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from the German Government, released a comprehensive study focused on advancing environmental justice in Georgia. This research examined the legislative and practical landscape and pinpointed specific challenges, while also presenting recommendations to further environmental justice in Georgia.
On 30 October, the research findings were presented to the public, with attendees including representatives from the Judiciary, Georgian Government, civil society, and international organizations. The event featured a special address by Prof. Dr. Thomas Schomerus, a distinguished member of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.
Lidija Christmann, Head of Development Cooperation South Caucasus at the Embassy of Germany to Georgia, emphasized the importance of this initiative: “Climate change and environmental pollution exert their impacts on Georgia, just as they do on the rest of the world. These pressing concerns affect people and make societies more vulnerable. Germany supports Georgia in protecting the fundamental human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. We are assisting Georgia in evaluating its legal framework to ensure equitable access to environmental justice for all."
Douglas Webb, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Georgia, noted that a robust legal framework exists at the international level to guide Georgia in strengthening environmental justice and safeguarding its citizens from environmental harm. “Our research acknowledges Georgia's progress in recent years, uncovers remaining challenges, and offers a set of recommendations for various institutions to bridge the gap between the country's existing practices and its international commitments."
Conducted by a team of international and local experts from July to September 2023, the study primarily focuses on the legal aspects shaping the dynamics of environmental justice in Georgia. The findings are based on comprehensive desk research and 27 in-depth interviews with various state and non-state representatives, aiming to gather background information, statistics, and insights.
The study reveals that the legal framework for environmental justice in Georgia is well-established. The Aarhus Convention is directly applicable, and the Constitution firmly enshrines the right to a healthy environment, emphasising access to information and public participation. Additionally, Georgia's legislation allows anyone to seek judicial remedies for violations of environmental laws. The country boasts functioning administrative agencies and judicial bodies, making both procedural and substantive challenges to environmental decisions possible.
Barriers are described, however, that hinder effective access to environmental justice in Georgia giving citizens the feeling that they cannot achieve effective legal remedies for environmental issues through conventional channels.
Barriers to environmental justice are both systemic, like lengthy delays in court reviews that can deny justice, and case-specific, such as shortage of qualified judges or too narrow interpretations of national laws that together can harm the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
Additional barriers mentioned in the research include a lack of accessible and inclusive public hearings for infrastructural and other development projects that affect the environment, as well as cases where requests for information are either ignored or answered inadequately.
The recommendations offered address the identified barriers and promote a more inclusive, transparent, and effective environmental justice framework in Georgia. They encompass the improved enforcement of environmental legislation, timely judicial reviews and procedures, capacity-building of rule of law institutions and public agencies, public awareness raising, the availability of quality legal aid, and support for civil society.
The full research report is available on the UNDP website.
UNDP and Germany's collaborative support for environmental justice in Georgia is part of a broader US$1.62 million initiative funded by Germany and implemented by UNDP. This initiative is designed to enhance the capacities of rule-of-law institutions, improve access to disability-inclusive infrastructure, and ensure the legal empowerment and socio-economic resilience of disadvantaged communities.