David Zalkaliani has highlighted the plans and priorities of the Georgian Presidency of the CoE Committee of Ministers

Speaking before the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 27 January 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and President of the Committee of Ministers, David Zalkaliani highlighted the four priorities of the Georgian Presidency.

Dealing with the priority “Human Rights and Environmental Protection”, Zalkaliani said that  this is the first time that environmental protection is being identified as a clear priority. According to the Minister, the goal of the Georgian presidency is to raise awareness on the human rights implications of environmental problems, as well as environmental implications of human rights issues.

“The interconnection between environmental protection and human rights is undeniable. We wish to encourage the Council of Europe to be more active in this area. We also believe that the relevant provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, could be used more extensively in member States as a tool for the protection of individuals and communities against environmental harm” – Zalkaliani said adding that Georgia will be organising two major high-level conferences during its Presidency.

With respect to the priority “Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process” the minister said that the Georgian Presidency will organise an International Conference on Civil Participation to identify useful and innovative experiences of successful engagement of civil society at local, regional and national level. “Civil participation in decision making processes requires a society-wide dialogue on critical issues and is fundamental for the functioning of a truly democratic society. We believe that more efforts could be done in order to increase the level of input from civil society and citizens in the decision-making process. This would help in strengthening and, sometimes, regaining the trust in and credibility of our democratic institutions” – the Minister said.

He also spoke about the creation of a child-friendly justice system as a top priority for the Government of Georgia. “Our aim is to promote Council of Europe standards on child-friendly justice systems as well as sharing Georgia’s experience and achievements in this area. With this in mind, the Georgian Presidency will hold a Round Table on Child-Friendly Justice – Converging Experiences on Restorative Justice in Europe. The conference will support and encourage member States to discuss and review national experiences of national juvenile justice systems in the light of European and international standards for human rights protection of the child, to identify existing challenges and to design more child-friendly policy solutions – Zalkaliani stressed.

According to him, the Georgian Presidency also wishes to promote one of the core values of the Council of Europe – democracy – through education, culture and youth engagement (the fourth priority). “We will be promoting quality and inclusive education that is free from discrimination and provides a safe and secure learning environment” – Zalkaliani said.

In the words of the Minister, Georgia will organise a number of events aiming in particular to promote the work of the Education Policy Advisers Network (EPAN) and the implementation of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education.