Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Committee of Georgia (hCa - Georgia) as an independent, non-governmental non-political organization exists since 1992. Its aim is to promote the democracy and open society building in Georgia and its integration into the international system. Its main concern is stable civic security in Georgia, as well as the whole region of South Caucasus. It supports peaceful civic initiatives, assists the self-organization and self-management of different civic groups. hCa - Georgia also supports the organizational development of local NGOs and conducts educational programs in spheres of effective NGO management, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), etc.
The other level of hCa - Georgia's work is related to the broader area of the whole South Caucasus, including Armenia, Azerbaijan and the conflict zone of Nagorno Karabagh. In particular, hCa - Georgia is an active participant of "Transcaucasus Dialogue" - a program which is conducted by International hCa since 1992 and which is supporting those civic groups and initiatives in South Caucasus that strive for peaceful dialogue and reconciliation between war-torn peoples.
1998 ACTIVITIES OF HCA - GEORGIA
Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Committee of Georgia is currently involved in realization of several programs. Here we will shortly review them.
I. "Road to Recognition" - program of training seminars for NGO leaders of Georgia. Sponsored by Eurasia Foundation. Grant amount $24,000. Duration - 12 months.
In frames of program hCa Committee of Georgia was conducting training seminars for local NGOs. Seminars aimed to raise the professional level of NGO leaders, to attract their attention to the urgent issues and promote more active NGO involvement in open society building and democratization process. The topics of the seminars were "Negotiations in Unequal Conditions", "Legislative Policy of NGOs", "Creative Fundraising", "Role of NGO in Economy Development", "Organization Management", "Work With Volunteers", "Organization Security", "Work With Difficult Clients" and "Ethics of Philanthropy", etc. Each seminar lasted for 2 days and we had 15 participants each day. Program was finished in September 1998, now we are preparing the summary report.
II. Independent Human Rights Library "Open Society" - sponsored by Open Society - Georgia Foundation (grant amount ca. $8,500) and by US Embassy in Georgia (grant amount ca. $9000).
Already since 1989, when national movement in Georgia has just initiated, Association of National Consent of Georgia (ANC), together with Akaki Tsereteli Library started creation of first independent library in Georgia, which was functional until 1991. Library represented the big collection of informal periodicals, or in other words, "samizdat", published in Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Baltic Countries.
Since 1991 all those books were stored in office of hCa - Georgia (which was actually created later by the same people and on a base of ANC) and were permanently supplemented by the efforts of hCa - Georgia members. The conditions of storage were not satisfactory of course, books were kept in boxes unavailable to interested readers. In 1997 hCa - Georgia applied to several foundations in order to save the books, re-establish the library, make it functional and available.
Our library has two rooms with bookshelves, one of them is also used as a reading hall. Everyday we are accepting users - from 3 to 5 users per day. These are mainly representatives of local NGOs, internally displaced persons and students. We are offering them following types of literature: human rights protection; peaceful initiatives; NGO sector; migration issues; finances, foundations and resources; social sciences; religion; legislation; intergovernmental bodies; periodicals; vocabularies, etc.
Independent Library together with Charity Aid Foundation (CAF) in Moscow was the initiator of a creation if Small Libraries network, as a key element in human rights protection infrastructure of post-soviet society. Regional branches of library are already created in Kutaisi (West Georgia) and Gori (East Georgia). Network has cooperation with Library of Human Rights Resource Center in Baku, Azerbaijan and Vanadzor Human Rights Library in Armenia.
III. "Migration Phone Service" - sponsored by Netherlands Embassy in Moscow. Grant amount $4550. Duration - 1 year.
Project implies creation of phone-service for internally displaced persons as well as all other people interested in migration related issues. Using existing data base, created already in 1995-96, when hCa - Georgia published the brochure called "Reference Guide for Refugees and IDPs", and current updates of related information stored in computer, one staff person of service will answer telephone calls and requests. Project is in preparation stage and initial data-base is already created.
IV. "Legal Consultation Center" - sponsored by OXFAM (GB). Grant amount $6990. Duration - 1 year.
New project of hCa Georgia, which was funded in the end of July 1998, implies creation of free legal consultation center for vulnerable groups of population in Georgia. In future it is planned to add the specific direction to the Center, which will offer free consultations to the national minorities living in Georgia.
V. "hCa Network in Georgia - Highlighting Peace and Democracy" - sponsored by TACIS Democracy Programme. Grant amount - ECU 190,289. Duration - 2 years.
(Though project was financed already in April 1998, its formal realization will start later, after all contract procedures are finished).
Project implies the development of local hCa-based Civic Initiatives' Centres (CIC) in eastern and western Georgia, and support of their two-year activities and liaison with the Central hCa office in Tbilisi, as well as with the hCa network in South Caucasus and Europe. CIC's activities will include: democratic education of citizens and young NGO workers in different parts of Georgia (with special attention to the mountain regions) by means of regular training seminars and workshops series; creation and strengthening of local independent NGO libraries' network; publication of periodic bulletins and reports; internet networking (local and regional) and Internet conferences; organization of Youth NGO Winter Schools.
This project is the first, and very essential step in realization of the main mission of committee, which lies in support of the civic peace-building initiatives and strengthening the NGO network throughout the whole territory of Georgia, promoting the easier transition of the society to the new social-economical relations, activating the process of democracy and civil society building in Georgia.
hCa - Georgia's representations named "Civic Initiatives Center" - one in Telavi (east) and another in Kutaisi (west) will serve as a supporting points and resource bases for the various programs and measures that will be organized by hCa - Georgia during two years of the project and afterwards.
The next step towards the main mission of the committee will be the expansion of the hCa representations network to other smaller local centers, which are of key significance in respect of regional development, conflict prevention and promotion of civic values in rural regions of the country. Meanwhile the preparatory work by means of several inquiries to mountain and border regions of Georgia, combined with series of introductory seminars for local population and NGO-s will be conducted already in frames of given project. One more objective is the continuation of contacts and cooperation in frames of "Transcaucasian dialogue" - the program, which was launched by hCa in 1992 especially for South Caucasus countries. The regional cooperation and networking are of big importance for the democracy development as in Georgia, as throughout the Caucasus; in this respect hCa - Georgia will host the regular consultative and planning meetings of Georgian, Armenian, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabagh hCa leaders
VI. Landmine Monitoring on a Territory of Georgia - sponsored by Department of foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada (Mine Action Team). Grant amount - $31,150
The project that was approved by Canada representatives in October 1998, implies execution of three sub-projects, including: landmines monitoring in Georgia, information campaign to ban landmines in Georgia and to promote the signature of Ottawa Convention and monitoring of the situation of disabled persons - victims of the landmine explosions. Project will last for 1 year.
VII. Bakuriani Winter Schools for Youth NGOs
In 1998, Open Society Georgia Foundation sponsored first Bakuriani Winter School for Youth NGOs of South Caucasus, which was organized by hCa Committee of Georgia and its Youth Branch - "Eurasian Dialogue". The Winter School was devoted to "Youth Policy and Regional Security". Second Winter School will be conducted in Bakuriani in February 1999 and will be devoted to "CITIES". School will collect 30 participants from cities of South Caucasus and last for 12 days. Next Bakuriani School will be organized in 2000. Participation of foreign students is welcome, but on a base of their own travel costs.
Several main directions of our activities:
1.In April 1998 hCa - Georgia organized South Caucasus -wide action called Consent '98.
Action was initiated by four organizations: hCa - Georgia; Newspaper "Georgian Times" (Tbilisi); Newspaper "Zerkalo" (Baku) and Newspaper "Novoe Vremja" (Yerevan). Different measures were conducted in Tbilisi, Baku, Yerevan, and several smaller towns of Georgia (Gori, Kutaisi, Zugdidi). One of them was mass planting of trees and flowers as a symbol of peace and reconciliation in whole South Caucasus region. Special appeal to the governments of South Caucasus countries was adopted. Another measure was Exhibition of Children's Drawings. Special logos for the action and exhibition itself were created. Action was supported internationally - there was special support action in Rotterdam (Netherlands), organized by hCa Western Liaison Office in The Hague and IKV (Netherlands).
All these and other activities in frames of Consent action were organized on voluntary basis.
As a follow-up of this action, the big amount of flower bulbs was received in October 1998 as a gift from IKV (The Netherlands). Tulips and Crocus bulbs will be planted in different regions of Georgia and Trans - Caucasus as a symbol of peace, reconciliation and civic security in the region.
2. In April 1998 hCa - Georgia and number of independent experts-politologists established the "Terrorism and Political Violence Research Center".
Mission of the Center is to contribute to peaceful and stable development of state without violence. Aim of the Center is to increase the level of social and civil security through the theoretical investigations of terrorism. Main objectives are to raise the political and cultural level of society; develop the nonviolence culture; explain the phenomenon of terrorism and acquaint it further to mass media.
Center will study the reasons of terrorism and analyze possible solutions; conduct social-psychological investigations in population; elaborate methods of prognosis, investigate culture of protest; conduct psychological research and issue publications.
Center will offer following types of service: recommendations, consultations, training and educational seminars, organization of local and international conferences
3."International Campaign to Ban Landmines" - Committee of Georgia
Six years ago Georgia was added to the list of mostly "mined" countries, such as Angola, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Bosnia. According to the United Nations, there are 150,000 mines on a territory of Georgia; according to the British Work group - 75,000 - 150,000; International Red Cross states that mines amount does not exceed 150,000; "Hello-Trust" givens show 50,000 mines.
In a result of current armed conflicts in Georgia quite hard situation is observed. Lands were mined without any registration, without any maps or other records. Landmines continue to damage military people, as well as peaceful population.
By order of president of Georgia control and cleansing of the territory from landmines was entrusted to following institutions:
Until 1998 there was no movement against landmines in Georgia. When Georgian Committee of hCa and Soldiers Memory Fund began to search the related information, it turned out that there was no contact on this problem between the power structures and, even more, there were no contacts between any other organizations working in this direction.
- Ministry of Defense (the zones of military actions, dislocations of military units)
- Ministry of Internal Affairs (populated areas, railways and automobile roads);
- Department of Frontier Troops (border line of republic)
After First International Conference "New Steps to the Future Without Landmines" (Moscow, May of 1998), following non-governmental organizations of Georgia:
decided to create new organization "Georgian Committee - International Campaign to Ban Landmines", which will coordinate the movement against landmines and for control on other explosives on territory of Georgia.
- Helsinki Citizens' Assembly (hCa) Committee of Georgia
- Soldiers Memory Fund
- Association "Women of Georgia for Elections"
- Georgian Committee of "World Doctors Against the Nuclear War"
4. Professional Training Courses for Vulnerable Groups of Population
This program envisages setting up of professional training courses for different vulnerable groups residing in Georgia. As a first stage of its realization, the proposal for land mine explosion victims (invalids) is prepared. The program of professional training will enable people, who have lost their jobs because of their injuries and suffer from hard situation in country, to acquire new prospective specialties such as managers, secretaries, computer operators, etc.
5. Transcaucasus Youth Network of hCa
In July 1998, the Transcaucasus Youth Network of hCa started its official functioning by visit of Melanie Faradou-Bertaud and Maegon Barlow to Tbilisi, Yerevan and Baku. In frames of Youth network activities together with Eurasian Dialogue and hCa Committee of Georgia the Summer Tent Camp was organized in Rkoni (countryside in Georgia, two hours of drive from Tbilisi). Youth Camp was combined with two seminars of hCa - Georgia conducted in frames of program "Road to Recognition" sponsored by Eurasia Foundation. Topics of the seminars were: "Organization Conflicts" and "Social Infrastructure of NGO". Almost 40 participants took part in a Camp, in both seminars. Camp was functioning for 10 days. Youth Coordinator from Armenia - Michael Hambardzumian was also invited to Camp.
This information was posted to CCSI's Organizational Guestbook April 1999.
Last updated: June 1999
A print version of much of the information contained in this NIS Third Sector Organizations section can be found in the The Post-Soviet Handbook (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1999).