2023 LiA Project: Week 1

For my Leadership in Action project, I joined a non-profit organization that works on promoting democratic development and fostering civil society involvement in political decision-making. In this blog post, I reflect on the first week with the organization.
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Tbilisi, Georgia: May – June 2023

When discussing democratization in Georgia, it is impossible to disregard the chosen political path of the Georgian electorate – European Union. Although most of my research focuses on the authoritarian tendencies of the ruling party, the pressing issue of such developments is how they affect Georgia’s path towards this goal. 

This summer I had the opportunity to join a non-profit organization – Open Society Georgia Foundation – that works on promoting democratic development and acts as a certain watchdog for the authoritarian tendencies and policies of the ruling party. I joined the Human Rights Program team to share my findings with the managing team, and to participate in further research on the similar tendencies of young democracies and how these processes can be combated. 

My first week with the organization fell on the same week as a major event – a presentation of analysis of the twelve point plan the European Union provided for Georgia to revisit the possibility of gaining candidate status in April. The event analyzed the steps the government has taken to fulfill each point and provided a comprehensive guideline to fulfill those that haven’t been fulfilled yet. 

The event was televised on almost all major television networks in Georgia and hosted experts on multiple fields relating to the priorities covered in the twelve point plan. These priorities include:

  1. Addressing the issue of political polarization in the current political climate of Georgia and ensuring cooperation across all political parties.
  2. Improving effective accountability mechanisms and strengthening the functioning of state institutions (this includes improving the electoral framework). 
  3. Implementing a transparent and effective judicial reform strategy to ensure a fully independent and impartial judiciary. Ensuring clear separation of powers.
  4. Improving anti-corruption efforts by strengthening the independence of the Anti-Corruption Agency.
  5. De-oligarchization.
  6. Improving commitment to eradicating organized crime. Improving accountability of law enforcement institutions.
  7. Ensuring and guaranteeing independent media. Effectively investigating threats against independent journalism.
  8. Strengthening efforts to protect the human rights of vulnerable groups.
  9. Ensuring gender equality and fighting violence against women.
  10. Ensuring the involvement of civil society in decision-making processes. 
  11. Implementing ECHR judgements in deliberations of Georgian courts.
  12. Improving transparency in nominations of new Public Defender and ensuring their independence.

During the event, each expert discussed the priority of their expertise to demonstrate the progress that had been made. Each priority was evaluated as “Fulfilled,” “Mostly Fulfilled,” “Partially Fulfilled,” or “To be Fulfilled.”

Being a part of hosting and attending the event as I started working with the organization shaped my work and expectations for the next six weeks. It defined the current priorities of the organization and allowed me to have a better picture of what my work would ultimately contribute to. Democratization processes are closely tied to EU integration in Georgia, and my LiA project closely followed the developments of fulfilling the priorities to gain the EU candidate status.

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