An Assessment of Georgian Civil Society
Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 14, 2011
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index (CSI) Georgia Analytical Country Report. The CSI was implemented in Georgia by Caucasus institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD), with the support of the Open Society Institute.
The CSI research revealed that a majority of CSOs identify two value groups in Georgia. These are: a) a retrograde value system, which has totalitarian origins and mostly favours Northern (pro-Russian) orientation in foreign policy; and b) a democratic value system, which is perceived as Western (European and Euro-Atlantic) oriented. A majority of Georgian CSOs consider themselves as supporters of the latter.
The research identified the weaknesses of civil society in Georgia as including: a low impact on society, significantly low levels of organisation and a disenabling external environment due to the concentration of power with the authorities. The strengths of civil society mentioned included: organisational experience, dominance of democratic values among CSOs and potential for development.
A positive development that has recently emerged in the wake of the government’s diminishing credibility is that authorities have given a clear signal that they would like to cooperate more with civil society groups on numerous issues. Unfortunately, civil society has been substantially weakened in the last seven years and is thus no longer usually able to respond adequately to new challenges.
CSOs pointed out two directions for further work. Firstly, actions that aim at “awakening”, activating and involving society to participate in social processes; and secondly, actions to put pressure on the Georgian government to commence/accelerate democratic reforms.
The research outlines two diverging scenarios for Georgia’s future. The optimistic scenario foretells an empowerment of democratic institutions within Georgia and the formation of a sustainable basis for the stable development of democratic institutions through international support and mobilisation of society as a whole. The pessimistic scenario however suggests further consolidations of authoritarian rule in Georgia as a potential threat, in conjunction with a deteriorating economy, high emigration, the domination of police structures and the increasing power of international criminal cartels (for example, drug and weapons smuggling).
CSOs believe that only the support of further developments of the civil society sector may lead to the achievement of the optimistic scenario.