Georgia’s cooperation with the Council of Europe – CM, PACE, Congress, HRC, ECHR
Committee of Ministers
The Committee of Ministers is one of the main decision-making bodies of the Council of Europe.
At the ministerial level, Georgian Foreign Minister is the member of the Committee of Ministers, while at the Deputy level, Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe is the member of the Committee of Ministers' Deputies.
The Committee of Ministers meets once a year at ministerial meeting. Deputy Ministers' meetings are held every Wednesday.
The Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers is rotational in accordance to the English alphabetical order, for the 6 months’ term.
Georgia is represented in the Parliamentary Assembly by the delegation of 5 representatives and 5 substitutes. Chairperson of the Georgian national delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly is Irakli Kobakhidze - member of the Parliament of Georgia.
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
The Council of Europe has always recognized the crucial importance of democracy at local and regional levels. That's why it contributes to the development of local self-government, which, in turn, meets the needs of the citizens wherever they may be.
The Congress, which has 324 full and 324 substitute members, comprises two chambers: the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. It represents the 200,000 local and regional authorities in the Council of Europe’s member states. Thus, Congress is the ideal forum for dialogue where representatives of local and regional authorities discuss common problems, compare notes about their experiences and share their ideas to the national governments.
In order to develop local and regional democracy, the Congress, since its establishment, has developed a number of international agreements, including the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which has become the international treaty in this area.
Congress is closely watching the local democracy in Europe by publishing “monitoring reports” about the existing situation in Member States. Thus, it controls the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the effective implementation of the main principles of local democracy.
It is also in charge of local and regional elections, and sets standards for Europe in electoral matters.
it advises the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly on all aspects of local and regional policy.
The Georgian delegation at the Congress of the Council of Europe is chaired by the Mayor of Tbilisi, the President of the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia, Mr. Kakha Kaladze.
Georgia is represented in the Congress by a delegation of 5 representatives and 5 substitutes.
Cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights
The Ministry of Justice of Georgia, through the Department of State Responsibility to the International Courts (“the Department”), represents the State before the European Court of Human rights in the disputes initiated by Georgia or individual applications lodged against the country. The Department litigates before the Strasbourg Court as well as coordinates the enforcement of its judgements. Additionally, in order to prevent the violation of the European Convention of Human Rights (“the Convention”), the Department is actively engaged in awareness-raising activities in the field of international human rights standards and the case-law of the Court.
During the last years, in light of co-operation with the Court, a number of relevant measures have been implemented; namely:
By the decision of the Minister of Justice of Georgia, since 2012 a new strategy - “Let’s resolve the human rights issues inside Georgia” - was initiated which means active engagement with friendly settlement procedures envisaged under the Convention. This, on the one hand, helps the European Court in handling the backlog of applications with respect to Georgia, and, on the other side, gives the applicants an opportunity for prompt restitution of violated rights at the domestic level. Since 2012, 128 cases, concerning the violations occurred prior to 2013, were resolved: either through friendly settlement or unilateral declaration - acknowledging the violation of the Conventional rights.
Furthermore, Georgia treats the enforcement of the Court’s judgements with high responsibility, which inter alia requires implementation of complex general measures. That being so, it resulted in reduction of applications lodged against Georgia and minimized the probability of repetitive applications.
In particular, due to the numerous reforms carried out in Georgia, the number of applications lodged with the Court against Georgia has been dramatically reduced which once again illustrates an increased trust in state institutions amongst the citizens of Georgia as well as other individuals residing in its territory. According to the statistics published by the Strasbourg Court, 395 applications were lodged in respect to Georgia in 2011, in 2012 - 367, while in 2018 - only 99. Considering the number of population, Georgia holds the 12th place among the 47 member states of the Council of Europe with regard to a small number of yearly lodged applications (as of 2018).
Besides, pursuant to memorandum concluded in 2017, the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court of Georgia, in active cooperation with the Strasbourg Court, launched the HUDOC database in Georgian language. It will enhance the dissemination and popularization of the Court’s judgment delivered against Georgia and the Court’s case law in general. This is particularly important considering the principle of stare decisis utilized by the Court in its case law.
Commissioner for Human Rights
The office of the Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution of the Council of Europe.
Dunja Mijatović is the current Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. She was elected in 2018.
The last visit of the Commissioner for Human Rights to Georgia took place in 2015. The then Commissioner Nils Mujnieks visited the occupation line near the village of Odzisi.
Decision on the Georgia-Russia Conflict
Since 2014 the Committee of Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe has been annually adopting Decisions under the agenda item - “Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia”.
The Decision is an important legal and political document, where international community assesses severe situation in occupied regions of Georgia and underlines that the military presence of the Russian Federation in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions threatens regional peace and security and violates international obligations, including the EU-mediated cease-fire agreement of 12 August 2008.
In the Decisions the Council of Europe member states reaffirm their strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The document outlines deep concern over the worsened human rights situation in both occupied regions of Georgia and reaffirms the responsibility of the Russian Federation, as a state accountable for exercising actual control on Georgia’s occupied territories.
The Decisions reiterate that any illegal act by the Russian Federation aimed at changing the status of the Georgian regions has no legal effect.
On 2 May, 2019 at the 1345th meeting, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies adopted next, sixth Decision under the agenda item - “Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia”.
Consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia
According to the decision of the Committee of Ministers Deputies of the Council of Europe, adopted at their 1080th meeting on 24th and 26th March 2010, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe publishes Consolidated Report on the Conflict in Georgia twice a year. The objective of the report is to take stock of the situation in Georgia following the August 2008 conflict. The report covers the following information:
- update on major developments in the period under review;
- assessment of statutory obligations and commitments of Russian Federation and Georgia related to the conflict and its consequences;
- human rights situation in the areas affected by the conflict;
- and current Council of Europe activities aimed at addressing the consequences of the conflict – Confidence-building measures (CBMs).
The 19th Consolidated Report on the Conflict in Georgia was discussed at the 1344th meeting of the Committee of Ministers Deputies of the Council of Europe on 24th of April 2019.
Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2016-2019
The CoE Action Plan for Georgia 2016-2019 is developed in order to continue the support of Georgia in domestic implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights as well as to further assist the country in bringing its institutions and practices in line with the Council of Europe standards.
The Plan takes into consideration the results and achievements of the previous Action Plan 2013-2015 which include, among others, the improved independence and professionalism of the judiciary; improved strong knowledge of the legal professionals about application of the European anti-discrimination standards; an improved capacity to deal with electoral dispute resolution; better healthcare provisions for prisoners; an enhanced capacity to investigate ill-treatment; strengthened contacts between representatives of civil society and professional groups for confidence-building purposes.
The implementation of the Action Plan will be jointly assessed by the CoE and the Georgian authorities and regular reviews will be provided to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
Sectors of the Action Plan’s intervention
1. Protecting and promoting human rights and dignity, ensuring social rights:
- Harmonising national legislation and judicial practice in line with European standards;
- Strengthening the capacity to tackle discrimination and protect rights of persons belonging to minorities;
- Promoting the freedom of the media;
- Improving the legal framework related to data protection;
- Enhancing the capacity to combat violence against women and domestic violence;
- Enhancing the role of Georgian schools in the promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
2. Ensuring justice:
- Assisting reforms pursuing independence, transparency, impartiality, and efficiency of the justice system;
- Further enhancing the capacity to deliver judicial training;
- Fighting ill-treatment and impunity;
- Further improving accountability and transparency of police operations;
- Further developing the capacity to implement a rehabilitative approach in penitentiary reforms.
3. Strengthening democratic governance:
- Improving the integrity, transparency and quality of the electoral process and enhancing the capacity to monitor elections;
- Increasing women’s participation in politics; increasing the participation of ethnic minorities and first time voters in elections; and enhancing the capacity of media to provide professional coverage of elections;
- Assisting in strengthening institutional and legal mechanisms aimed at regional and municipal development.
4. Countering threats to the rule of law: corruption, money-laundering, cybercrime, manipulations of sports competitions:
- Enhancing the capacity of criminal justice institutions to tackle corruption, cybercrime and money-laundering.
5. Confidence-building measures:
- Developing a dialogue between non-state actors, civil society and professionals and disseminating good practices for the respect of human rights standards in the conflict-affected areas.
In order to optimise the development and delivery of the technical assistance programmes in Georgia, the Council of Europe co-operates with the Georgian Government, national institutions, civil society and other key stakeholders.
The major strategic partner for the implementation of activities in all sectors of the present plan is the European Union. The Council of Europe accepts voluntary contributions for the implementation of this Action Plan from member, observer and non-member states, international organisations, foundations, the private sector and individuals who share the goals and values of the organisation.
Total Action Plan’s budget: € 25 377 269
In 2019, Council of Europe started in-depth consultations with Georgian authorities in order to elaborate new Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023. The new programming instrument will build on the results of the previous Action Plan and support democratic reforms in Georgia.
European Union and Council of Europe Partnership for Good Governance (PGG)
In 2014, European Union and Council of Europe agreed to implement targeted cooperation activities -under the Programmatic Cooperation Framework - with EU’s Eastern Partnership countries to bring them closer to European standards in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The first phase was implemented in 2015-2018, the second phase commenced in 2019 and will cover three year period for 2019-2021 years.
The projects under the Partnership for Good Governance, are funded primarily by the EU (90 %), and co-funded and implemented by the Council of Europe (10 %).
The eight country-specific projects (implemented by Georgia) focused on the Strengthening the application of the European Convention of Human Rights in Georgia; Supporting the Georgian Bar Association; Promoting freedom, professionalism and pluralism of the media; Protecting internet freedom through legislation and arrangements for multistakeholder dialogue; Human rights and healthcare in prisons and other closed institutions in Georgia; Electoral assistance to the election stakeholders in Georgia; Combating money-laundering and terrorism financing in Georgia; Civic integration of national minorities. In addition, Georgia participated in 14 regional projects for EAP countries.
Two country-specific projects will be implemented in Georgia between 2019 and 2021 with a total budget of 2.2 million EUR, funded by the EU (80%) and Council of Europe (20%): Enhancing the systems of prevention and combating corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing in Georgia; Implementation of judicial reforms in Georgia.
In addition to these country-specific projects, Georgia is also taking part in four regional projects aimed at fighting against economic crime, strengthening the profession of lawyers, combatting discrimination and facilitating access of women to justice.