Project

Anti-Corruption In Practice: Exploring Symbiotic Dynamics Between The NACC, Civil Society And Investigative Journalists

The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) in partnership with the National Democratic Institute would like to invite you to a hybrid roundtable discussion on:
Anti-Corruption in Practice: Exploring Symbiotic Dynamics Between the NACC, Civil Society and Investigative Journalists

Date: Friday, November 25, 2022
Where: Online, Zoom (Zoom link will be sent after the closing of registration)
Time: 15:00 – 17:00
Language: English and Arabic with simultaneous interpretation
Registration deadline: Thursday,  November 24, 2022  at 23:59
Organized by: Lebanese Center for Policy Studies  
Moderated by: Ali Taha, Researcher at LCPS

In recent years, Lebanon has passed a number of anti-corruption laws such as on the right to access information, asset declaration and illicit enrichment. These reforms are nonetheless mere legal tools to achieve an arduous end that is accountability. Oversight bodies such as the newly appointed National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), can serve as an enabling channel for the utilization of such legal tools in combating corruption, and guaranteeing transparency. The commission however has a long journey ahead of it, one that is fraught with all sorts of political, financial, and administrative challenges.

The discrepancy between the spread of corruption in Lebanon’s public sector, and the institutional resources that could be made available to it in times of fiscal austerity, lower expectations as to its effectiveness. Political pressure and meddling which have in the past curbed and nullified attempts at promoting accountability in government, also elicit similar cynicism. Although very real, these challenges do not justify a premature surrender of anti-corruption ambitions. Instead, civil society, investigative journalists and the public at large should play a proactive role to mitigate such challenges, by supporting and overseeing the work of the NACC. 

This roundtable comes as a kickstarter for an essentially technical discussion, on the ideal dynamics that should govern the relation of the NACC with civil society organizations and investigative journalists. Specifically, how can they both support and oversee the commission, and using what tools?  

Speakers:

Tinatin Khidasheli

Chairperson, Civic IDEA

Julien Courson 

Executive Director, LTA

Layal Bou Moussa 

Investigative Journalist, Al Jadeed TV

China in the World Community Fund Report – 2022

We are particularly grateful to our Taiwanese partner organization Doublethink Lab, for advancing global research and collaborations on PRC influence in Georgia and worldwide.

10th China Watch report CSCEC in Georgia

Civic IDEA is pleased to share with you the 10th China Watch report related to another Chinese company operating in Georgia, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. (so-called CSCEC), and reviews its scandals and misconduct that occurred in Georgia and worldwide.

CSCEC is one of the largest Chinese state construction companies, founded in 1982. Since then, it has operated in more than 100 countries worldwide. The company’s main activities comprise real estate, construction financing, operation and engineering (housing and infrastructure), as well as design and survey. This company has been embroiled in numerous scandals in the past two decades. More precisely, the CSCEC and its subsidies have been exposed to corruption and fraud schemes in the US, Philippines, Pakistan, Hungary, and several other countries and have been blacklisted by different state and international institutions.

Read more about the company’s reputation and activities in our report: 👇

Chinese Leverage in Georgia’s Academic, CSO and Media Sectors: Post-Covid Reality.

Civic IDEA published the second volume of the report “Chinese Leverage in Georgia’s Academic, CSO and Media Sectors: Post-Covid Reality”. The current paper reviews Georgia – Chinese cooperation in Academia, that is, among various universities, academic programs, scholarships, etc., analyzing realities created by Covid Pandemic and its consequences. Moreover, it gives a comparative analysis by evaluating foreign trends and policies toward Chinese malign academic activities. Mainly, the report focuses on the cases of the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Hungary, Serbia, the US, and Sweden to demonstrate that, like other essential domains, Academia can be exploited by foreign actors.

The report is implemented with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Embassy in Tbilisi, in cooperation with the Central European Institute of Asian Studies.

Report 👇

Round table on The Role of the Judge for transitional democracies

A round table was arranged by “Civic IDEA” and funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Tbilisi on March 25th in the hotel “Sheraton Grand Metechi Palace.” The round table gathered current and former judges of the Constitutional Court.

The roundtable served to emphasize the Constitutional Court’s involvement in the country’s growth and to identify precedent-setting historical decisions by the Georgian Constitutional Court that have significantly changed the course of the country’s development and common practice.

The meeting was opened by Merab Turava, President of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, who spoke about the court’s historic decisions, such as the case of 2015 on the demarcation of majoritarian constituencies, cases that changed the country’s drug policy, and judges also highlighted the decisions where the court evaluated the constitutionality of procedural-legal norms while also discussing the application of international decisions/mechanisms in the Constitutional Court, the issues of their interrelationship and the legitimacy of their applicability.

Within the framework of this project, it is planned to film a few short videos, with a major focus on the content of the cases, the historical context, and the role of the judge/judges in the decision-making process.

Russia’s War Against Ukraine – Implications for Democracies and Democracy Support in the EaP Region

International IDEA’s online roundtable aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the current and likely future effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on democracies in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. In addition, the discussion aimed to distill recommendations on how national and international democracy assistance providers should revise their actions in response to this crisis.

Three speakers from Armenia, Moldova and Georgia reviewed the unfolding effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine on democratic development of their countries, and delve into the following key questions:

– How will the war affect democracies in the three EaP countries of Armenia, Georgia and Moldova? What positive and negative consequences are expected? – What are the particular vulnerabilities where the democratic progress could be rolled back? – How should national and international actors change their strategies for democracy support following Russia’s war against Ukraine?

Context

Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova continue to strengthen their democratic systems. Achievements, albeit with many challenges, include improvements to the conduct of elections, increasing the transparency and accountability of government institutions, and maintaining an open, civic space for citizens and media to openly debate, question, or challenge their governments. It is no wonder President Putin is scared of such democratic vibrancy at his doorstep.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the objectives it pursues through this war—replacing Ukraine’s democratically elected government with another, ‘friendly’ regime—once again demonstrates the nature of Russia’s interests in its neighborhood.

Just days after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and following Ukraine’s urgent application for membership of the EU, Georgia and Moldova also sent in their applications. These declarations once again commit these countries and their incumbent governments to build a European-style democracy—where human rights and the rule of law are sacrosanct and where state power is constrained by democratic checks and controls.

These developments, even if the accession remains a distant prospect, signal a resolution of all three countries to further invest in democratic qualities. If there is a positive fall-out to be found from this devastating war, this could be it.

But what other effects can be anticipated on these fledgling democracies fraught with multiple structural and institutional challenges? Could the war and its fall-out on the region’s economies unravel social and political instabilities? Against this backdrop, will the political elites and the public, witnessing Russia’s attack on Ukraine, find the resolve to continue building pluralistic, democratic systems? Or will the governments, using the argument of war at their doorstep, increasingly resort to majoritarian or even authoritarian methods of governance? Will they focus on the fight against corruption and oligarchic influence (a large majority of local oligarchs are connected with Russia) or will the economic pressures result in moving away from this vital agenda? Will the state of emergency and a prevailing sense of crisis allow for conditions to build independent judicial bodies and a strong rule of law? Will civic groups and watchdogs find it harder to fight for independent media and their ability to check government actions?

The article by Tinatin Khidasheli in the conference report of the International Institute for Peace(IIP).

The Chairperson of the Civic IDEA- Tinatin Khidasheli, participated in a conference organized by the International Institute for Peace (IIP) – “Thirty years on: Is There still a Post-Soviet Space?”. The report of the conference has been published, which also includes the article by Tinatin Khidasheli:

“From the Georgian perspective, it is important to distinguish between political Europe and geographic Europe. Georgia very much sees itself as belonging to the former, though it is geographically in the Caucasus. Georgia has felt invisible to the West since the 2008 War with Russia, wherein Georgia received little support from NATO or the EU. Georgia is a place where Russia is contesting the West for influence, and Russia is trying to show that Georgia belongs to its neighborhood. For Georgians, it appears that the EU and NATO have constructed a new Iron Curtain, the countries beyond which they do not see as their concern. Furthermore, Russian sanctions were a blessing in disguise for Georgia, as the country was able to strongly diversify its economy and exports when Russia closed its market to Georgia.”

Report 👇

https://www.iipvienna.com/ussr-conf-2021

The closing event of the project “Strengthening Civic Resilience in Georgia by Promoting Democracy and Enhancing Democracy through Media Literacy”

On December 16, 2021, at the Hilton Garden Hotel in Tbilisi, Civic IDEA, together with GRASS and MDF, participated in a closing event for the media literacy project hosted by the non-profit organization ‘People in Need’, and supported by the Czech Government and USAID / GEORGIA.

Opening remarks were made by the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, Peter Mikiska, USAID / GEORGIA Mission Director Peter Wiebler, and People in Need Georgia CEO, Dion Battersby. The representatives of the Georgian NGOs discussed the Chinese and Russian malign influence as a threat to democracy in Georgia, the scale of disinformation, foreign fake news, and propaganda campaigns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conference “China: Threat or a Strategic Alternative”.

On December 2, Civic IDEA together with the Embassy of Poland to Georgia organized a joint conference “China: Threat or a Strategic Alternative”. The event was hosted by the Embassy of Poland. During the discussions, the speakers reviewed Beijing’s engagement in Central and Eastern Europe, its economic expansion as a decisive pillar in China’s grand strategy.

Georgian and foreign experts participated in the conference. The conference agenda can be found in the attached file. It’s been four years, since Civic IDEA has been actively researching Chinese influence operations in various regions worldwide.

დღის-წესრიგი„ჩინეთი-საფრთხე-თუ-სტრატეგიული-ალტერნატივა-3

📣📣A one-week workshop on “Common Challenges and Future Perspectives in the Caucasus” in Germany, August 15 – 20, 2021

📣📣A one-week workshop on “Common Challenges and Future Perspectives in the Caucasus” in Germany, August 15 – 20, 2021

The workshop, which is the heart of the project, will bring together 20 young scholars, graduates, advanced students, and civil society activists from all over the Caucasus and international experts in conflict studies and peacebuilding.
The gathering is a combination of a small conference, training, and regional exchange. During the workshop, the intercultural teams can work on their projects and receive feedback from their peers and international experts. Furthermore, participants will receive training on vital skills and competencies which help them to fulfill their potential.
We will also produce the joint print and online publication “Corridors-Proceedings Vol. III” Please send your application consisting of a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, and abstract to info@opencorridors.de not later than by 6 June 2021 and with the email subject “AYPC 2021”.
Thanks to the funding of the German Federal Office (#CivilSocietyCooperation), we will cover all project-related costs for the selected participants, including travel, accommodation, full board, and excursions.