Georgian Election Law Program

International Election Principles in the 21st Century

Georgian American University, Tbilisi, Georgia September 25, 2012

At the request of Prof. Dr. Paata Tsnobiladze, First Vice President of the World Jurist Association and Chairman of the Georgian Lawyers’ Union, and Mr. Benjamin E. Griffith, WJA Member and Attorney at Law at MS Firm of Griffith and Griffith, The World Jurist Association will co-sponsor the Georgian Election Law Program, International Election Law Principles in the 21st Century at the Georgian American University (8 Merab Aleksidze Street) in T’bilisi, Georgia on September 25, 2012, from 9:00am – 5:00pm. → Georgian Election Law Program Agenda

Report on Georgian Election Law Program

This program’s focus was on international election principles, standards, rules and practices, and sponsored by the Georgian Municipal Law Association with additional co-sponsorship by the Georgian American University (Faculty of Law),  International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Election Law, ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, ABA Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, and ABA Section of International Law.

This was a very timely program for the Republic of Georgia, whose Parliamentary Elections were held October 1, 2012. Over 105 Lawyers, Professors and Students were in attendance, and a diverse panel of attorney speakers discussed election law, free and fair elections, election principles, democracy building, citizen participation and the rule of law.

Participating WJA Members who made a presentation include:

1.Benjamin E. Griffith, of the Cleveland, MS firm of Griffith and Griffith, IMLA International Committee Chair, Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law, and Editor of America Votes! A Guide to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights (ABA 2d ed. 2012). Ben will discuss topics ranging from comparative assessments of election doctrines, standards for election observation, resolution of election contests and disputes, timely and appropriate remedies, strengthening of election procedures through collaborative efforts of NGOs, and principles drawn from U.S. Election Law and Voting Rights;

2. Edward J. Sullivan, of Garvey Schubert Barer in Portland, OR, and Past-Chair of the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law. Ed will address citizen involvement, government relations and public participation in the context of regulation of land use, property rights, zoning, and planning and development, and international comparisons drawn from common law and civil law countries, an appropriate blending of land use and election law with an international emphasis;

Participating Non-WJA Members presented include:

3. Shalva Tskhakaya is a Partner at the Tbilisi based law firm GLCC. He was involved in elections administration, election assistance and observation in different capacities for last 10 years in 8 different countries including Central Asia, Africa and CIS. Experienced in facilitating election law reform process, drafting election and referendum laws, regulations and procedures, he provides legal assistance and advice to the Election Management Bodies,  International Organizations and observer groups. Last year he helped the Central Elections Commission of Georgia to develop the 5 year strategic plan. Currently, he serves as a legal advisor to the National Elections Commission of Liberia facilitating the elections law reform process. Shalva graduated from Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis and is a PhD (SJD) candidate on Faculty of Law of Tbilisi State University.

4. Veronika Metonidze is a Georgian and US Attorney and Consultant. She is currently practicing US federal and Virginia State Law in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to her legal career in the US, she practiced Georgian law and actively participated in the legislative process of Georgia as a staff member, and later, a Chief of Staff of the Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee. As a Managing Staff Attorney at ABA/CEELI, Veronika focused on Democracy building and Judicial and Legal Profession reforms. She consulted on multiple international projects of the Wold Bank, IMF, and IOM. Veronika earned her L.L.M degree in International Legal Studies from American University Washington College of Law in 2001, after graduating with Honors from Tbilisi State University Department of International Law in 1995. She is a founding member of GYLA (Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association).

5. Henry T. (Hank) Jones is a native of New Orleans and a member of the ABA Section of International Law and the Committee for Open Democracy and has been working through the Committee in Europe and Georgia. His presentation and comments will be limited to and focused upon a discussion of the substance of internationally recognized norms of  election procedures, processes, standards, and democratic principles.

6.John Hardin Young, of Sandler, Rieff, Young and Lamb in Washington, D.C., Editor of International Election Principles (ABA 2009) and Co-Chair of the Advisory Commission to the Standing Committee on Election Law. John will discuss international election principles, standards for recounts, standards, strengthening of election procedures through collaborative efforts of international organizations and agencies such as IFES, rules and criteria that apply to elections and electoral process around the world;

7.Teona Tavelishvili, Head of Administration of the Board of the Municipality of Sagarejo, Georgia. Teona, who earned her Masters degree at Emory University School of Law, in conjunction with the Legislative Fellows Program organized by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will share her expertise in local governance and election law, discussing how international election standards and principles are reflected and applied in a developing democracy.

The Program Agenda will consist of nine segments:

1)     Overview of International Election Principles;

2)     Standards, rules, and other criteria that apply to elections around the world;

3)     Comparative assessments to review election doctrines;

4)     Election Dispute Resolution and Recounts;

5)     Election Contests: Process, Standards and Procedures;

6)     Effective, Timely and Appropriate Remedies;

7)     Core principles of electoral processes and democratic elections in a broader political context;

8)     Collaborative efforts of international organizations, NGOs and others to strengthen electoral procedures; and

9)     Relevant principles, standards, rules and practices drawn from U.S. Election Law and Voting Rights, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, Protection of Voting Rights of Minorities, Language Minority Groups, Disabled Persons, and Others subjected to voter suppression, vote dilution, or discrimination in voting on account of race, ethnicity, national origin or other prohibited classification, Voter Identification, Voter Suppression, Internet Voting and Electronic Voting, Absentee Voting, Mail Voting, and Early Voting.

A final report of the Georgian Election Law Program is available here.