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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UN holds consultation on disability rights
As celebrations from the International Day of Persons with Disabilities continue, the Georgia UN Disability Inclusion Group (GUNDIG) invited the organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in Georgia to highlight accomplishments and discuss challenges that hamper progress towards an inclusive and equal society.
The meeting created a discussion space for UN agencies and organizations of persons with disabilities to exchange ideas and plans for supporting the sustainability of the achieved results.
UN Resident Coordinator Sabine Machl opened a discussion and commended progress towards an inclusive and rights-based environment for persons with disabilities (PwDs).
“We salute progress made so far towards creating a more inclusive, equitable, and empowering environment for persons with disabilities,” said UN Resident Coordinator Sabine Machl. “We look forward to continuing our work in close partnership with people with disabilities to support building an inclusive society. We need to achieve real impact in the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities and to foster development that creates more opportunities for all.”
The consultation included an overview of priority areas and identifying the specific steps to be taken for advancing the disability agenda in Georgia.
The event featured presentations by Nutsi Odisharia, UNFPA, Ketevan Melkadze, UNICEF, Sophio Benashvili, OHCHR, and Eliso Chabrava, UNDP bringing attention to crucial areas, including biopsychosocial model, access to quality health and social services, with emphasis on the sexual and reproductive health and gender based violence, data management, economic empowerment and full participation and inclusion in society, capacity building of women and young persons with disabilities and organizations of persons with disabilities in all decision-making and development processes.
Representatives from various disability organisations and UN agencies stressed the need for greater effort and commitment to promoting disability rights and inclusivity and monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Georgia. This resonates with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres message for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) that calls on “the world to work side-by-side with persons with disabilities to design and deliver solutions based on equal rights in every country and community”.
The event served as a catalyst for renewed efforts and partnerships, aiming to achieve the ambitious goals of "United in Action to Rescue and Achieve the SDGs for, with and by Persons with Disabilities," the theme of this year's IDPD.
The United Nations in Georgia has been helping to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Georgia for over three decades. This work has included strengthening the legislative framework and creating an evidence-based policy environment, in alignment with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN has helped to improve systems for quality integrated health and social services and to enhance capacities for data collection, monitoring, and advocacy. The UN excelled in transformation of the disability assessment system, focused on the best interests of persons living with disabilities. At present two joint programmes are being implemented with the support of the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) to strengthen disability inclusive development policy in Georgia.
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
Georgia: EU supports NASIRA Guarantee Programme for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
On 14 November, the Georgian financial institution Terabank and the Dutch entrepreneurship development bank FMO announced the first NASIRA risk-sharing programme in Georgia.
The programme aims to increase financial resource access for micro-enterprises and SMEs operating in the country, and is funded by the European Commission and the Dutch Government.
‘NASIRA’ takes the form of a loan portfolio guarantee and supports financial institutions in increasing their lending activities for MSMEs, with a focus on underserved business segments, such as smallholder farmers and women-owned and youth-owned businesses. Often these clients have difficulty accessing finance due to higher associated credit risk and lack of collateral and/or historical track record.
“Under its Economic and Investment Plan, the European Union expects to leverage up to €17 billion in public and private investments. The EU is delighted to see these guarantees delivered on the ground, accelerating one of our core flagships to support 80,000 SMEs in Georgia,” said Nicholas Cendrowicz, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in Georgia.
“Access to finance that also reaches under-represented economic actors elevates more people into economic activity and lends itself to a more inclusive economic growth for Georgia.”
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EU and UN Showcase Success of EUR 5.1 Million Initiative for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia
Partnership Sparks Entrepreneurship, Green Economy, and Economic Resilience
TBILISI. 14 November 2023 – The European Union and the United Nations presented 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 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.
This landmark programme directly benefitted up to 100 small and medium-sized enterprises across the country and played a significant role in establishing and nurturing four business clusters, some of which have garnered international acclaim from the European Cluster Excellence Initiative. Furthermore, the programme created learning and development opportunities for over 1,500 entrepreneurs and farmers across Georgia, strengthening their business skills and increasing their prospects in the international marketplace.
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).
The results of this collaborative effort were celebrated at the event on 14 November, where distinguished speakers from the Government and the private sector highlighted its impact.
"The EU’s Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia has unveiled various opportunities for the private sector, laying the foundation for ongoing economic progress. The European Union remains unwavering in its support for Georgia's private sector, actively promoting green and sustainable practices and cultivating the prospective growth of Georgia's business and industrial landscape," said Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
Douglas Webb, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Georgia, noted that the private sector is the crucial player in safeguarding economic and social rights and achieving sustainable development for all.
“Together with the European Union and UN agencies, UNDP is working hand in hand with small and medium-sized entrepreneurs across the country to support Georgia's transformative journey toward a strong, inclusive, and sustainable economy, focused on the best interests of people and the planet. Our support benefitted one of Georgia’s strongest clusters of packaging companies and producers, PMAG, which has increased its membership network to over 60 companies, excelled in digital transformation, introduced environment-friendly business practices, such as sustainable production and recycling, and gained international recognition from the European Cluster Excellence Initiative and the World Packaging Organization. From 2018 to 2022, these impressive transformations facilitated a more than two-fold increase in sales across the entire PMAG network," said Webb.
“Under this project, FAO has supported the local production of saplings through the development of a legislative framework together with the National Food Agency and the Scientific Research Centre of Agriculture. We also supported around 20 nurseries by increasing their technical capacities and providing equipment. Moreover, FAO has trained up to 1000 producers on modern sustainable practices for agricultural production and facilitated access to markets for local products. All in all, the achievements of this project will greatly contribute to achieving a more sustainable agricultural production in terms of quantity, quality, and environmental impact, implementing good agricultural practices with EU standards, noted Javier Sanz Alvarez, the FAO Programme Coordinator.
“UNIDO directly supported 36 SMEs and trained/coached up to 300 beneficiaries across different business sectors in Georgia. UNIDO helped producers overcome constraints related to production and quality management, allowing them to sustainably resume their business operations. Notably, one company obtained Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certification and gained access to the market. With UNIDO’s assistance, Georgian Marine Fishing and Biopharmaceutical Clusters managed to bring together different producers and through joint activities achieved the objectives, which would’ve been left unresolved without the assistance of the EU-funded project,” said Giorgi Andguladze, UNIDO National Project Coordinator.
“Cultivating a dynamic synergy between the diaspora and local businesses, the International Organization for Migration has mapped the high-profile Georgian diaspora in the EU and globally. Through our extensive database, comprising approximately 4000 diaspora profiles, we have actively engaged with hundreds of individuals, exploring their skills, experience, and interests. Our overarching goal has been to establish robust connections between local businesses and the diaspora, facilitating the effective use of diaspora resources, knowledge, and ideas. This initiative has not only strengthened trade but also facilitated capacity building and driven collaborative initiatives. The diaspora's role as agents for local development was successfully pilot tested,” said Sanja Celebic Lukovac, IOM Chief of Mission.
One of the programme's most notable achievements is the substantial support provided to business clusters in Georgia, increasing the opportunities for participating companies and entire business sectors to excel both nationally and globally. The European and the United Nations assisted four business clusters, each contributing to specific areas of Georgia's economy:
- Packaging Cluster – PMAG, the ECEI Bronze Label holder, full member of the World Packaging Organization (WPO). Supported by: UNDP.
- Seed and Seedlings Cluster, facilitating the National Seedling Certification System development, technical support for nurseries, farmers training and Farmers' Markets. Supported by: FAO.
- Georgian Biopharmaceutical Cluster. Supported by: UNIDO.
- Marine Fishing Cluster. Supported by: UNIDO.
Furthermore, the programme helped strengthen public-private partnerships across various areas of business development, including waste management. In 2023, regional and local authorities in both western and eastern Georgia reiterated their commitment to this cause by signing declarations of intent with packaging companies and international partners aimed at enhancing waste management practices and promoting separation and recycling at the municipal level.
The programme also played a pivotal role in creating strong connections between Georgia's small and medium-sized producers and the Georgian diaspora in EU Member States. This collaborative approach fostered cooperation and partnership across borders, strengthening Georgia's presence in the global marketplace.
The "EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia" opened new opportunities for the private sector and set the stage for continued advancement towards more up-to-date, sustainable, and greener business practices. The European Union and the United Nations remain committed to supporting Georgia on its journey toward a sustainable and prosperous future.
The EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia is an EU-funded initiative, boasting an investment of EUR 5.1 million. This initiative is carried out in partnership with UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with Georgia's public and private sectors. It aims to promote entrepreneurship, enhance legislative frameworks, provide better access to finance, and strengthen cooperation with EU Member States.