Georgia’s effective response to COVID-19

Georgia has been praised and admired round the world for its swift and effective national response to COVID-19. Together with the health authorities and relevant ministries, the Parliament of Georgia has been at the centre of its national response.

The Georgian Parliament’s role and expertise during the pandemic were greatly supported by both the newly-established Research Centre and the new Rules of Procedure which strengthened Parliament’s oversight capabilities – vital in exercising democratic accountability and transparency of the executive at the time of the state of emergency.

Both the Research Centre and the new Rules of Procedure can be directly linked to Levan Makhashvili, the Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Chairman of the Parliament in Georgia.  During his JST Fellowship Programme in 2018, Levan’s Action Plan focused on strengthening parliamentary scrutiny in Georgia. The knowledge and connections he made during his Fellowship Programme in the UK contributed greatly to his work once back home to set up the Research Centre – and ensure its independence and autonomy – as well as the revision of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament.

During the JST Fellowship Programme, the JST team set up targeted meetings for Levan to help him achieve his Action Plan.  He spent time with academics, Parliamentary Committee Clerks, MPs and MSPs learning how parliamentary scrutiny and research intersects and functions in the UK. He says some of his most insightful meetings were with Research Centres in the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales because he gained in-depth knowledge and understanding of how they are managed on the ground, what their most significant challenges have been and how they’ve overcome them.

Levan states that all his UK meetings provided him with key information that he would never have otherwise found himself and thus, they not only helped him realise his Action Plan but it can now be seen that they contributed to the broader context of the Georgian Parliament’s preparedness to manage the COVID-19 Pandemic.