In-depth

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Freedom of media is an important prerequsiite of democratic society

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 2013, places Armenia in the group of “partly free” countries.

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.

·        Supporting Armenia in meeting its international obligations in human rights and preparing for the second national report under the UPR mechanism; 

·        Providing high-level policy advice to Armenian authorities in areas such as human rights and democracyjustice, liberty and security in the frame of EU Advisory Group;

·        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;

  • Through the Kolba Lab incorporating new approaches such as advanced user insights, crowd intelligence and co-design into UNDP’s programming, thus establishing a mechanism for prototyping and testing ideas before turning them into fully-fledged projects;

·        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

UNDP supported the Government in developing the Human Rights Action Plan for 2013-17 in consultations with civil society and other international organizations.

The Gender Equality Law, developed with technical support from UNDP, was adopted in May 2013 to ensure state guarantees for equal rights and opportunities for women and men at all levels. 

To encourage more active representation of women in decision making, UNDP continued to support their engagement particularly in local governance: up to 600 women (elected, municipal servants, local activists) were trained on leadership, local governance and participatory processes. UNDP also capacitated the network of 82 female beneficiaries elected in 2012 and established a platform for their exchange and dialogue on local governance with the Parliament and the Ministry of Territorial Administration.

To strengthen engagement with constituencies, UNDP piloted an innovative micro-referendum SMS-polling tool in 5 communities which confirmed actual participation of up to 24 percent segment of active residents out of 2,656 registered for the poll.

UNDP partnered with the Government of Armenia to establish in 2013 a Youth Studies Center/Institute.

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 supported the government through the training of 105 border management officials in the streamlining of the IMB regulatory and policy frameworks and improved intra and inter-agency collaboration and coordination through 8 seminars on a range of subjects including: document security, risk assessment, profiling, search techniques, international property rights and identification of counterfeit goods, refugee and asylum rights.

The Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements between the EU and Armenia were signed.

The Government adopted the Food Safety Strategy and the Action Plan in the area of sanitary and phyto-sanitary, and the Strategy on Intellectual Property Rights.

Fostering mobility and people-to-people contacts is another important element of the cooperation. The EU 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.

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 UNESCOUNDP 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