Statement of NGOs on the Process of Implementation of the Self-Government Reform

We, the below signatory NGOs believe that the idea of implementation of the reform of local self-government by citizens is the key value which the whole system of democratic government rests upon. The right of citizens to participate in their own local affairs is shared by all democratic states. It is only with the citizen involvement that highly legitimate local government is able to ensure effective governance close to constituents and ensure adequate conditions for local development. 

The cornerstone of the development of a country is strong governance in which with their own responsibility and through elective local self-government authorities constituents are able to exercise without violation of state sovereignty this very important right delegated to them by the Constitution and the European Charter of Local Self-Government. 

We do not share the opinion that the idea of having issues of local importance decided independently by constituents may promote separatism and break up the country. This argument has often been cited by political forces that came into power starting from the 90s for advancing their interests and for tailoring the law to their own needs, which has eventually led us to the existing completely inapt system of the façade self-government, no good for citizens.

Even though civil society representatives have a number of critical comments about individual provisions of the Local Self-Governance Code, any effort to discredit the reform is unacceptable for us, particularly where realization of citizens’ right to self-governance does not conflict with national interests of the state and its sovereignty but rather promotes checks and balances and self-governance focused on citizens. 
In this light,

Hereby, we urge the government of Georgia and the parliament of Georgia, as key guarantors of realization of constitutional rights of constituents, to disregard the attempts to discredit local self-governance and proceed with the reform;
To stay true to their pre-election promises and create the legal base prior to the election that will enable citizens to realize their rights by using effective forms of participation in governance, through elected authorities and officials, as prescribed by the Constitution of Georgia and applicable laws, while at the regional level they are able to control officials appointed by the government. 

The International Center for Civic Culture
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center
Open Society – Georgia Foundation
Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information
Transparency International – Georgia
Civitas Georgica Association
Network for the Development of Local Democracy
Civic Integration Foundation
Center for Community Development
Civil Society Institute
Center for Training and Consultation
Economic Policy Research Center
Center for Civil Society Research and Development
Green Alternative
Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia
Liberal Academy Tbilisi Foundation
Public Defender
Green Caucasus
Gori Information Center
Taso Foundation
Public Movement Multinational Georgia
Union of Democratic Meskhs