Request for Proposals Situation Analysis of Civic Space in Georgia

Europe Foundation

Europe Foundation invites proposals from qualified organizations or individuals to undertake a rigorous situation analysis of civic space in Georgia. The study is envisioned to provide a broad picture of the operational space available for pro-democracy civil society organizations (CSOs), human rights defenders (HRDs), and civic activists, as well as an evidence-based assessment of which actors are most affected and why by the observable shrinking of civic space locally, nationally, and internationally. The Foundation would like the study to provide concrete steps that various stakeholders can take to defend civic space or to support expansion of new spaces, if such trends are observable in Georgia.

The assignment will take place in November-December 2022 with a presentation of the findings slated for early 2023.

About Europe Foundation

Europe Foundation’s mission is to empower people to effect change for social justice and economic prosperity through hands-on programs, helping them to improve their communities and their own lives. Its programs equip CSOs and civic activists to define and achieve positive outcomes for themselves and their communities. The Foundation employs a participatory approach, which allows civil society actors to determine the issues that are of importance to the right-holders and to develop interventions that will be effective in addressing identified needs – a critical factor in building a vibrant democracy. At the same time, Europe Foundation mobilizes communities and/or interest groups around specific issue areas to create demand for change. The Foundation also believes that substantive and sustainable democratic changes cannot be affected without issue-based partnerships between diverse groups of stakeholders. It is for this reason that Europe Foundation has made it its priority to nurture and promote public-private-NGO partnerships that contribute to consensus building and ensures participatory decision making.

Europe Foundation’s vision for civil society development is reflected in its operational and grantmaking interventions, which are guided by the following mandates and approaches: citizen monitoring, corporate and community philanthropy, evidence-based advocacy and policy making, cross-border/cross-community cooperation, cross-cutting gender policy, youth integration, public-private partnerships, and open door grantmaking.

Background

In the past 15 years, civil society actors around the world have been resisting the increasingly repressive policies of their governments. While autocratic governments have always tried to silence the dissenting voices of democratically minded organizations and citizens domestically, their recent success in stifling civil society voices on the international plane is alarming. Reports by various international NGOs, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders, include multiple examples of how infiltration of international institutions by autocratic states has precluded human rights defenders and other civil society actors from voicing their concerns on the international plane and utilizing the already sparse international mechanisms to expose human rights abuses and to compel the offending governments to reverse their course of action. Equally alarming is the diminished interest in and appetite for the rule of law, democracy, and human rights among some of the Western democracies, which has led to significantly lower levels of international funding for these causes, as well as reduced strength and credibility of international institutions. The upsurge of right-wing populism and economic nationalism in mature democracies is further challenging the international human rights ideals, emboldening governments to accelerate their clampdown on civil society. These international trends have led to what CIVICUS refers to the double democratic deficit – “citizen who lack voice at the national level cannot look to international forums as an alternative; given the privileged role of state and large corporations, … national voicelessness is amplified at the international level.” (CIVICUS. State of Civil Society Report. 2015 p.18)

At the dawn of 2013, it seemed that Georgian civil society was insulated from the global phenomenon of shrinking space. Moreover, the initial years after the 2012 Parliamentary elections were marked with some of the successful examples of state-civil society cooperation, as reflected in the improvements in Georgia’s rankings in the Nations in Transit Report by Freedom House, which consistently upgraded Georgia’s scores during 2013-2017. However, with consolidation of power by the ruling party, the past several years have been very turbulent for the country’s civil society. This turbulence has been duly noted by Georgia’s international partners that closely follow the country’s development trajectory. For example, according to Freedom House, Georgia’s democracy score during 2018-2021 as a result of multiple verbal attacks on civil society organizations, their leaders, and human rights defenders by public officials, excessive use of force against peaceful protestors, illegal arrest and deportation of Azerbaijani human rights defender Afgan Mukhtarli, concerns over judicial appointments and the functioning of the court system, changes in the law on broadcasting, politically motivated prosecutions, and multiple irregularities observed during the 2018 Presidential and 2020 Parliamentary elections. According to the RSF 2022 country report, Georgia’s press freedom dropped dramatically from 60 to 89, making this the worst performance year since 2013, when Georgia was ranked 100th out of 180 countries.

Given the above-mentioned, Europe Foundation is commissioning its second situation analysis of operational environment for CSOs and pro-democracy civic activists, which is to provide a general picture of the civic space available for CSOs, HRDs, and pro-democracy civic activists in Georgia, as well as an evidence-based assessment of who is most affected by the observable shrinking of civic space locally, nationally, and internationally. The assessment is expected to provide information about the trends in this respect, as well as concrete recommendations for stakeholders interested in defending and expanding the civic space in Georgia.

The Objective of the Consultancy

The overall objective for this consultancy is to identify the systems, actors, and processes that determine the boundaries of operational space for CSOs, HRDs, and pro-democracy civic activists and to provide actionable recommendations for various stakeholders, aimed at defending and expanding civic space for Georgian pro-democracy actors locally, nationally, and internationally.

To this effect, Europe Foundation would like the consultant to form a holistic view of the current and future trends in this area by reviewing the already existing studies that describe the following main aspects of the operational environment for civil society actors: (1) regulatory and political environment and the extent to which it is free from chilling effects, threats, and attacks, (2) access to resources and the extent to which it is non-discriminatory and sustainable, and (3) effectiveness of participation in policy-making processes by CSOs, HRDS, and pro-democracy civic activists.

Based on the desk review and key informant interviews, the consultant will:

  1. Explore the impact of the post-2016 national and international developments on Georgian CSOs
  2. Identify concrete mechanisms utilized by local and national authorities or other anti-democratic groups to delegitimize or otherwise curtail the work of pro-democratic civil society actors
  3. Investigate the nature and causes of repression of pro-democracy civil society actors in Georgia
  4. Develop actionable recommendations (including suggestions on innovative instruments) for stakeholders that are committed to defending and expanding civic space for Georgian pro-democracy civil society actors.

Methodology

The methodology to be used in undertaking this exercise will be qualitative in nature, consisting of review of both primary and secondary sources of data, as well as key informant interviews. The consultant will be responsible for developing the research design and methodology, in order to meet the above-noted goals. Stakeholder participation is to be an integral part of data collection, data analysis, and formulation of recommendations. Details about the approach and the data collection methods to be employed to undertake this task should be included in the bid.

Timeframe and Reporting Requirements

Expected duration of the assignment is eight weeks, plus the final report presentation in 2023.

The consultant will produce the following deliverables:

  1. Inception report, which will address the following components:
    • Overview of the assignment
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • Methodology, data collection methods (derived from methodology), and data collection instruments
    • Synthesis of the collected data
    • Indicative timeline
  2. Draft of report
  3. Final report, which will include the following sections:
  • Executive summary (1 page)
  • Brief description of the context of the exercise
  • Description of the goal and objectives of the exercise
  • Description of methodology and data collection tools utilized in the course of the stocktaking
  • Presentation of main findings and conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • Annexes as provided in the inception report, including the list of reviewed documents, all data collection tools, list of interviewees, etc.

The report will be the sole property of Europe Foundation, which will retain the right to use it for internal and external purposes.

Budget

The budget of the evaluation should not exceed USD 15,000 (gross), including travel and lodging expenses for the presentation of the final report. Price competitiveness will be one of the considerations during the selection process and all proposals exceeding the maximum will be ineligible.

How to apply

Request for Bids

The bids will be accepted both from individuals and organizations. Applicants should submit a proposal that includes:

  • Detailed description of the Consultant’s qualifications, with a list of previously undertaken assignments;
  • Copy of similar reports completed by the applicant during the past five years;
  • Description and justification of the proposed methodology including description of tools and techniques that will be used to collect and analyze information;
  • Draft work plan and budget.

Only complete applications will be considered.

Selection Criteria

Europe Foundation will select the winning candidate among the companies or individuals submitting a complete bid by the proposal deadline. The selection criteria will include the following:

  • Degree to which proposal adheres to the Terms of Reference
  • Quality of the proposed methodology
  • Qualifications of the bidding organization and the individuals involved, including past experience in undertaking similar research, and
  • Cost-effectiveness of the proposal.

Proposals may be submitted by email to [email protected] no later than 21 October, 2022 by 23:00 GMT+4. Please indicate “Situation Analysis of Civic Space in Georgia” in the subject line of your email.

Questions about this call should be directed to Nino Sutidze, Program Coordinator ([email protected]).


Closing date: 21-Oct-22