Speaking at the workshop on “Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights at local level in Georgia" which took place on 9 December 2021 in Tbilisi to mark the International Human Rights Day, Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress, underlined the relevance of the topic and timely discussion after almost two years of the public health crisis. He highlighted the role of local authorities as front-line stakeholders and the need for multi-level platforms of dialogue and exchange to enhance the implementation and promotion of human rights.
Kakha Kaladze, President of the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) and Mayor of Tbilisi, reiterated the necessity to pave the way for strengthened co-operation oriented towards the elimination of inequalities, the provision of quality municipal services, and the promotion of the well-being of vulnerable groups and individuals in each region and municipality in Georgia.
Representatives of the government, the parliament, the Public Defender, NALAG, as well as civil society organisations, emphasised their readiness to engage in effective consultations and discussion on the commitments of Georgia in upholding human rights. The mayors of the municipalities of Bolnisi, Tskaltubo, and Zugdidi shared their experience in addressing human rights at local level, in particular on including people with disabilities in employment, providing housing to disadvantaged groups, and promoting awareness-raising campaigns on domestic violence.
This hybrid event organised jointly with NALAG gathered together 140 participants, in person and online, including 47 mayors – representing more than 70% of local authorities of Georgia, as well as national authorities and civil society.
On this occasion, the Congress Secretary General signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the President of NALAG and with the mayors of 13 selected local authorities* which will work together as a forum of exchange to address challenges for improving social inclusion, promoting equal opportunities and incorporating a gender perspective in local political action, in order to eliminate discrimination.
In addition, Secretary General Kiefer met with stakeholders at national and local level to discuss their contribution to the project, including the NALAG President, the Public Defender of Georgia, the Human Rights Advisor to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure, as well as the Chairperson of Human Rights and Civic Integration Committee, the Chairperson of the Gender Equality Council and the Chairperson of Regional Policy and Self-Government Committee of the Parliament of Georgia. He also participated in the meeting of the project’s steering committee.
*The selected local authorities include: Bolnisi, Borjomi, Chokhatauri, Dedoplistskaro, Dmanisi, Marneuli, Oni, Ozurgeti, Tbilisi, Tetritskaro, Tsalka, Tskaltubo, and Zestaponi.
This event and meetings were organised jointly with the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) in the framework of the project “Strengthening participatory democracy and human rights at local level in Georgia”, implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Directorate General of Democracy, Division Elections and Participatory Democracy, within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023 with the financial contribution of the Austrian Development Agency. The project aims to strengthen institutional frameworks for citizen participation, support local authorities and their national association in their efforts to protect and promote human rights and ensure that civil society organisations have real impact on local decision making.