Max Planck Foundation Advises the Constitutional Commission of Georgia on Constitutional Reform

The Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law implements a project of constitutional consultation in Georgia in cooperation with the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). In this framework, the Foundation provides support to the constitutional commission, which is asked to elaborate constitutional amendments over the coming months and present them to the Georgian parliament by the end of March 2015. The Foundation is responsible for the preparation of comprehensive and smaller legal opinions with regard to constitutional issues. The Foundation builds to this end on its own expertise as well as on its network of constitutional experts. The legal opinions will be dealing with topics such as the protection of fundamental rights and constitutional adjudication from a comparative perspective. The constitutional commission defines the topics dealt with in the opinions, which are then to be discussed within the commission and its working groups.

Furthermore, the Foundation will take part in two seminars planned on the topic of constitutional law in Tbilisi, where members of the constitutional commission will discuss possible constitutional amendments together with international experts. These two events will be organised by the GIZ Georgia.

The Georgian Constitution was adopted in 1995 and has been amended several times. Important changes took place in 2004 and 2010. As a result, the institution of the prime minister was introduced, the public prosecutor’s office was subordinated to the executive power (Ministry of Justice) and, furthermore, the executive branch of government, and particularly the president, were strengthened.

After the presidential elections in November 2013, other equally important constitutional amendments entered into force. In consequence, the transition to a parliamentary system of government was initiated. After parliamentary elections in 2012, Georgia’s new government placed the issue of a comprehensive constitutional reform on its agenda. According to a parliamentary decision of 4 October 2013, a constitutional commission consisting of 58 members under the leadership of the chairman of parliament was set up two months later. Within the commission, parliamentary majority and opposition, extra parliamentary opposition, scholars as well as non-governmental organisations are represented. Five working groups on the following topics were created:

  1. General regulations and constitutional amendments
  2. Parliament, president, government
  3. Fundamental rights, justice and public prosecutor’s office
  4. Independent constitutional organs
  5. Territorial division and self-government

Amendments drafted and presented by the respective working groups, will be discussed in the extended session of the constitutional commission.

The constitutional reform pursues the aim of resolving the remaining uncertainties and discrepancies within the Constitution, analysing the regulatory gaps and suggesting concrete solutions, which will facilitate a more balanced relationship between the branches of government and provide more guarantees for an effective enforcement of fundamental rights.