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Council of National Minorities
Monitoring results of implementation of the National Concept and Action Plan on Tolerance and Civil Integration

This publication presents findings of 2010-2011 monitoring of implementation of the National Concept and Action Plan on Tolerance and Civil Integration. The monitoring was conducted by the Council of National Minorities under the Public Defender of Georgia with the aim to assess state programs in support of civil integration and to elaborate recommendations for addressing existing challenges.

Council of National Minorities (CNM)

ECMI in December 2005 facilitated the establishment of the Council of National Minorities (CNM), which today consists of some 85 representatives of minority organizations in Georgia while functioning under the auspices of the Public Defender of Georgia. Since 2006, CNM has also been indirectly supported by the United National Development Program (UNDP) through its assistance to the Public Defender's Tolerance Centre, under which the council is operating. CNM serves as a permanent institutionalized mechanism for minority-state consultation. Through conferences, roundtable discussions, consultative meetings with governmental officials, regional meetings and other activities, the council seeks to ensure a broader participation of national minority stakeholders in tailoring the Georgian government's minority policies at the national level. CNM's main function is to act as a platform for on-going dialogue and consultation between national minorities and governmental agencies. It also aims at improving as well as supporting the civil integration and inclusion of national minorities; to involve representatives of national minorities in the ongoing policy-formation processes of the country; to draft recommendations on minority related issues; to respond and act if minority rights are violated and/or conflicts occur; to draft recommendations for the Public Defender of Georgia or any other officials for the purpose of national minority protection; and to support national minorities in the preservation of their cultural heritage.

The Council of National Minorities was initially considered as a consultative body of the Public Defender's Office. However, owing to the outcome of CNM's active participation in decision making processes on issues relating to national minorities, its role and functions were enhanced so that today CNM acts as a main partner of the government.

With the purpose of supporting the immediate dialogue between the government and the representatives of national minorities, the Council of National Minorities under the auspices of the Public Defender of Georgia periodically conducts meetings with different government officials. The Council of National Minorities cooperates with the Council on Tolerance and Civic Integration under the President of Georgia, the Office of the State Minister on Reintegration Issues, and with other state agencies concerning national minority protection. The Council has arranged a number of important meetings with the Parliament of Georgia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the Ministry of Justice, Tbilisi City Hall, the Central Election Committee, the Ministry of Education and Science, and other governmental bodies. In order to ensure efficacy, four working groups were created under the Council of National Minorities which oversee media and information issues, education and culture, regional integration, and legal issues. CNM's recommendations in 2009 also led to the creation of a Working Group on Gender Issues and a Youth Centre.

CNM members regularly visit the regions of Georgia where considerable national minority communities live for the purpose of studying and monitoring their current situations, including Kvemo Kartli, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kakheti, Adjara, and other regions.

Enhanced efforts have been undertaken to develop CNM as a viable and widely-respected body. In 2005, the Georgian Parliament ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). In late 2006 and early 2007, CNM drafted a set of detailed recommendations to the government that identified deficiencies in Georgia's current legislation and policy practices in relation to the provisions of the FCNM. The recommendations were presented at a conference in May 2007 and also sent to 11 governmental ministers and agencies. Some of the points raised by CNM have been incorporated into the National Concept for Tolerance and Civic Integration and Action Plan developed by the Tolerance and Civic Integration Council under the President of Georgia. The active participation and close cooperation in the implementation and monitoring of the National Concept between the CNM and the new State Inter-Agency Commission (established by the President of Georgia in July 2009 and connected with the Office of the State Minister for Reintegration Issues) is broadly anticipated in implementing new practices in relation to the provisions of the FCNM. The consultative and monitoring role played by CNM in this process is considered to be of vital importance by both governmental and non-governmental agencies.