Armenia is a young democracy. The governance system does not yet provide sufficient access and options for meaningful participation of citizens both locally and nationally. People feel that participation in public life has very little or no influence on how things are run (Source: Social Cohesion Survey, 2011). There is little confidence in overall reliability and effectiveness of the justice system and corruption is one of the major challenges facing society. The majority of NGOs are partisan, and unable to provide space for open and respectful debates for public discourse.
Basic freedom of expression exists in Armenia and opinions can be openly stated. However, most media outlets are under political sponsorship, which limits the scope of reporting and its objectivity. The annual report of Freedom House for 2012, places Armenia in the group of “partially free” countries suggesting that the existence of some stagnation, with political freedom and civil liberties remaining unchanged in Armenia.
The overall human rights situation remains poor. Citizens are not fully informed about their rights, laws are not always enforced, and the strong influence of the executive undermines the impartiality of the courts. Gender disparities are common in Armenia: women are more likely to be unemployed, be paid less, and discriminated against in the workplace.
What we do
Building on the results of the previous work, UNDP is currently implementing a number of innovative projects in different sectors which address many of the gaps existing in the democratic governance area.
- Providing high-level policy advice to Armenian authorities in areas such as human rights and democracy, justice, liberty and security and free trade in the frame of Armenia’s EU integration policy;
- Modernizing three Armenian-Georgian border crossing points (together with the European Union and the National Security Council), which implies also enhanced accountability, transparency and integrity of border agencies to facilitate trade and transit and instil public confidence;
- Partnering with other development partners to streamline the regulatory framework in public sector (See: Beware the Armenian guillotine);
- Advancing gender equality in local governance;
- Promoting youth issues in the national development agenda and engaging with young people across Armenia
Some results so far
The Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements between the EU and Armenia were signed.
Fostering mobility and people-to-people contacts is another important element of the cooperation. The Advisory Group assisted in preparation of the National Action Plan on Migration and signing of the Joint Declaration (pdf.) on the EU-Armenia Mobility Partnership.
The Government of Armenia adopted a Border Security and State Border Integrated Border Management Strategy in 2010.
An Action Plan (2011-2015) for the National Integrated Border Management strategy was developed envisaging more than 80 activities covering areas, such as legislation, inter-agency cooperation, training and provision of equipment for border crossing points on the Armenian-Georgian border.
The Government started modernizing border crossing points at Bagratashen, Bavra and Gogavan thanks to loan agreement worth 45 million euros with the European Investment Bank and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
UNDP’s emphasis on national ownership in capacity development interventions proved to be one of the main prerequisites for the successful implementation of a comprehensive capacity assessment of the Ministry of Education and Science conducted jointly by UNESCO, UNDP NY and UNDP Armenia. The initiative enabled the Ministry to develop a comprehensive organizational development strategy and action plan. In parallel, UNDP supported the Ministry in developing a communications strategy, thus contributing to a more proactive and real-time approach to stakeholder engagement.
UNDP supported the National Institute on Education and the Ministry of Education and Science to improve promotion and protection of Human Rights by introducing the first-ever national framework on Human Rights/Tolerance Education in school system in line with international standards. This includes assessment of the level of Human Rights Education in humanitarian subjects, development of the Human Rights Education Action Plan for School system and mainstreaming Tolerance Education into middle and high school curricula.
UNDP, in response to the need for a stronger youth voice in policy development, UNDP produced a Youth Aspirations Survey which supplemented the Second National Youth Report, prepared by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and the Youth Policy Council of the Office of the Prime Minister.
UNDP supported establishment of the first-ever baseline on status of social cohesion, and analyzed the situation in Armenia in the broader context of 2011 Regional Human Development Report on Social Inclusion. In parallel, UNDP piloted an innovative Social Innovation Camp for youth engagement and joint creative work of youth groups and IT specialists, which resulted in funding and launch of a number of web-based solutions in social sector. The success of these initiatives triggered similar interventions by a few IT incubators and NGOs in Armenia.
To advance gender equality at local level, UNDP developed capacities of 124 female candidates of which 85 were elected to local self-government bodies, and introduced platform for networking and experience-sharing among the elected women in three regions of Armenia.