Strengthening the Rule of Law and Access to Justice Across the Region

UNDP and Germany Gather Rule of Law Professionals from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to Exchange Insights, Share Best Practices, and Set New Regional Standards on Access to Justice

December 2, 2023
Tbilisi Regional Conference 2023

Tbilisi Regional Conference 2023: Improving the Rule of Law and Access to Justice for All

Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions and state legal aid providers from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine convened in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 1-2 December for the Tbilisi Regional Conference on Improving the Rule of Law and Access to Justice for All. UNDP and Germany worked in partnership with the national governments and civil societies to organize this important regional forum. 

Douglas Webb, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. to Georgia, and Lidija Christmann, Head of Development Cooperation in South Caucasus at the Embassy of Germany to Georgia, inaugurated the conference with welcome remarks underscoring the fundamental role of the rule of law institutions in building a strong democracy.

"UNDP is working with governments, civil societies, and international partners to bolster transparent and independent rule of law institutions throughout the region. Our commitment extends to advancing equitable access to justice, with a particular focus on addressing the needs of disadvantaged communities."
Douglas Webb, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. to Georgia
"The Tbilisi Regional Conference brings together decision-makers and rule of law practitioners from four countries, marking a significant step towards strengthening the rule of law networks across the region and building a crucial foundation for the development of robust democratic institutions."
Lidija Christmann, the Head of Development Cooperation in South Caucasus at the Embassy of Germany to Georgia

Nino Kadagidze, President of the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Head of the High Council of Justice of Georgia, and Levan Ioseliani, Public Defender of Georgia, emphasized that the conference fosters regional partnerships and promotes cooperation in the crucial domains of the rule of law and access to justice.

Agata Nieboj, Human Rights, Justice, and Home Affairs Team Leader at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, and Ainura Bekkoenova, Rule of Law and Human Rights Specialist from the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub, delivered keynote speeches shedding light on accomplishments in upholding justice and the rule of law. They also addressed the challenges faced by the participant countries in establishing transparent and independent institutions, stressing the need to undertake further measures, especially considering Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia's EU aspirations.

Engaging in the discussions, Katy Thompson, Head of Rule of Law, Security, and Human Rights at the UNDP’s Crisis Bureau, contributed valuable insights on regional and global dynamics in upholding the rule of law and ensuring access to justice.  

The Tbilisi Regional Conference critically examined the rule of law trends in the four countries. Government officials and civil society representatives discussed lessons learned and best practices in strengthening institutions, ensuring access to justice for all, and supporting the resilience of the most disadvantaged communities.

The event highlight was the adoption of the Tbilisi Declaration on Access to State-Guaranteed Legal Aid for Forcibly Displaced Populations. This document sets regional standards to promote people-centred approaches to access to justice, enhancing knowledge-building and coordination among state legal aid providers across Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

On the sidelines of the conference, participants visited the conflict-affected Khurvaleti community near the administrative boundary line with the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and the Ukrainian House in Tbilisi. 

These visits aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of Georgia’s state-funded Legal Aid Service in offering free legal assistance to vulnerable and remote communities nationwide. They also provided firsthand insights into the practical assistance extended to Ukrainian nationals who sought support in Georgia during the war. Both UNDP and Germany play an active role in supporting these initiatives through funding, technical assistance, and strategic backing.

Background Information

With US$1.62 million in funding from Germany, UNDP assists Georgia in boosting the capacities of rule of law institutions and enhancing legal empowerment and socio-economic resilience of disadvantaged communities. Find out more information about this initiative on the UNDP website

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