The International Steering Committee informs us of recent developments on the ground, and advises us on which issues might be suitable to challenge through European Court litigation. The Committee’s members are: Besarion Bokhashvili, Lara Aharonian, Intigam Aliyev, Galina Arapova, Prof. Bill Bowring, Anton Burkov, Halya Coynash, Giorgi Gogia, Tamar Gvaramadze, Dmytro Kotlyar, Dr. Armen Mazmanyan, and Anna Sevortian.
Besarion Bokhashvili (Chair) National Human Rights Officer for Georgia, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in South Caucasus
Besarion Bokhashvili is the National Human Rights Officer for Georgia at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in South Caucasus, and a member of the advisory committee of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities being elected in respect of Georgia. Besarion is the Focal Point of the COE Human Rights Education Program for Legal Professionals (HELP) in Georgia. He was previously the team leader of an EU Project to support human rights and the rule of law in Georgia, and from 2007 to 2009 was Director of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA). He has more than 15 years of legal experience, including being the State Representative of Georgia to the European Court of Human Rights. He has also served as a local expert for the EU, the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ), the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Council of Europe, UN Development Programme, Open Society Institute and other organisations. He has extensive experience as a lecturer and trainer, including at the High School of Justice, Tbilisi State University, Free University of Georgia.
Besarion has published a number of books and papers on articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, their compatibility with Georgian legislation, and their implementation. He is a PHD Candidate at Tbilisi State University and holds a law degree from Tbilisi State University and an LLM in Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham. He is fluent in Georgian, Russian and English.
Lara Aharonian, Director, Women’s Resource Centre, Yerevan
Lara Aharonian was born in Beirut, but during the Lebanese civil war of the 1990s she emigrated to Montreal, Canada where she studied psycho-education and comparative feminist literature. She has been living in Armenia for the past 12 years. She co-founded the Women’s Resource Center in Yerevan in 2003 to empower women in the region and challenge the patriarchal norms in Armenian society. In 2008, she created the first crisis centre for survivors of sexual assault in Armenia to break the silence and shame around violence against women. Since then, with other activists, she has advocated for the rights of women experiencing domestic violence and supported them in finding justice. Since 2007, she has also worked with women living in the conflict region of Nagorno-Karabakh to include them in the peace processes.
She is one of the directors of the documentary film “Finding Zabel Yesayan” on the life and work of the Armenian female writer and social activist of the early 20th century
Intigam Aliyev, Head of the Legal Education Society, Baku
Intigam Aliyev is a prominent lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in the field of human rights. His organisation, LES, has been active in the defence of civil and political rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan since 1999. Alongside strategic litigation, it is also involved in training lawyers and providing human rights education. Intigam has extensive experience of litigating before the European Court of Human Rights, and has won more than 15 cases against Azerbaijan. He also serves as a legal and human rights expert for the OSCE, the Council of Europe HELP committee, and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative amongst others. He is dedicated to publicising government violations at a regional and international level. In 2012, he was a recipient of the human rights organisation People In Need’s Homo Hominis award in recognition of his commitment to defending the human rights of the Azerbaijani people.
Galina Arapova, Director, Mass Media Defence Centre, Voronezh
Galina Arapova has a law degree and post-graduate in world economy and international relations (Russian Academy of Sciences), and graduated from the Institute of European Law (University of Birmingham, UK, Human Rights Law and practice program conducted in cooperation with Council of Europe). Galina has worked in the field of freedom of expression and freedom of information since 1995. She is a director and senior media lawyer at the Mass Media Defence Centre (since 1996), working in the field of media rights protection, and promotion of freedom of expression standards in Russia.
Galina Arapova is a practising media lawyer with a wide practice in defending media in defamation and privacy cases and other media-related issues. She is a member of the UNESCO Chair on Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Rights established at the Institute of International Law and Economics (Russian Federation), and an expert/trainer for the Swedish Media Institute (FOJO). Galina takes cases to the European Court on Human Rights on Article 10 of the European Convention issues, and acts as a national expert for Council of Europe HELP program (Human rights education for legal professionals) for Russia. She has extensive experience of work as a lecturer/trainer around Russia, the CIS countries and Eastern Europe, providing training on a wide range of FOE-related issues to journalists, media lawyers, barristers and judges. Galina is a vice-chair of the international human rights organization ARTICLE 19.
Prof. Bill Bowring, Professor Birkbeck College, London
Professor Bowring is a practising barrister specialising in human rights. He is also Professor of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he teaches human rights and international law. He co-founded EHRAC in 2003. He has practical experience of taking cases to Strasbourg since 1994, with many cases against Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Estonia and Latvia, including all stages of pleadings and appearances before the Court, and in fact-finding hearings in-country. Since 1991 he has undertaken ECHR, ICCPR and CAT training in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. He has more than 90 relevant publications. He was a founding member in 1992 of the Bar Human Rights Committee, and is currently a member of its Executive Committee. Since 1992 he has been a Trustee of the Redress Trust (Reparation for Torture Survivors). He is also International Secretary of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, and is President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights.
Anton Burkov, Sutyazhnik (NGO), Ekaterinburg
Anton Burkov is the deputy director of Management Systems International. In this capacity, he manages the Mainstreaming Human, Social and Civil Rights Program’s “I’ve Got Rights” project, which seeks to create and support the conditions and political will to sustain the observance of human, social, and civil rights in Russia. The project operates in Voronezh, Nizhniy Novgorod, Novosibirsk and Perm. Anton also chairs the European and Comparative Law Department of the Russian State University for the Humanities and serves as a legal representative in numerous cases before national courts and the European Court of Human Rights. He also serves as a staff attorney with the NGO Sutyazhnik, in Yekaterinburg; an organization that promotes the protection of human rights in Russia, particularly in the area of labour rights.
As a member of Sutyazhnik’s Urals Center for Constitutional and International Human Rights Protection, Anton received the highest legal prize in Russia, the FEMIDA Award, ‘for contributions toward the creation of a democratic society and the development of state legal institutions.’ As an expert on the Russian legal system, he has authored numerous publications, including: ‘The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in Russian Courts’ (2010), ‘The European Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Russian Legal System’ in Leonard Hammer and Frank Emmert (eds.), ‘The European Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Central and Eastern Europe’ (2012), and ‘The Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on Russian Law’ (2007). Anton received a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, an LL.M. from the University of Essex, a candidate of science degree from Tiumen’ State University, and a law degree from the Urals State Law Academy.
As a PILnet International Fellow, Anton worked on a project to establish a human rights NGO in Russia to litigate cases focusing on minority issues with the goal of bringing domestic legislation up to international human rights standards.
Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Kharkiv
Halya Coynash has been a member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group for the last 10 years, and is editor of the English language website. She also writes for other, mainly Ukrainian media (in Ukrainian, Russian and English). However, since EuroMaidan she has concentrated on spreading information in English about events and human rights issues in both Ukraine and Russia. She is particularly concerned with media issues (propaganda, media manipulation, freedom of speech); far-right movements; and politicisation and manipulation of historical memory, amongst others.
Before joining the KHRG, she taught (first Russian, then English) at various universities, schools and other institutions in the UK, Russia, Ukraine and Poland. She is also the author of a Russian language course for the publisher Palgrave Macmillan.
Giorgi Gogia, South Caucasus Director, Europe and Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch, NY
Giorgi Gogia is an expert on human rights issues in the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. He has worked and written extensively on criminal justice system reform, police brutality, freedom of expression and media freedoms and property rights. He has also worked and written on international humanitarian law during armed conflicts and health and human rights. While at Human Rights Watch, Giorgi has documented excessive use of force by police in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan as well as media freedoms in Azerbaijan. He also documented human rights and humanitarian law violations during the Georgia-Russia conflict over South Ossetia in 2008, and the rights of ethnic Georgians who returned to their homes in Abkhazia, another of Georgia’s breakaway regions.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, Giorgi worked for International Crisis Group as a senior analyst, researching and writing on protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus – Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. A graduate of Central European University in Hungary, Giorgi is a PhD candidate in political science at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. He speaks Georgian, English, and Russian.
Tamar Gvaramadze, Executive Director, GYLA, Tbilisi
Tamar Gvaramadze has been the Executive Director of the Georgian Young Lawyers` Association since January 27, 2014. In 2011-2014 she was a project coordinator in GYLA for the Judicial Independence and Legal Empowerment Project (JILEP) funded by USAID and implemented though the East -West Management Institute in Georgia. At the same time she was coordinating the activities of the Legal Aid Centre in GYLA’s central office. Previously, in 2005-2009 Tamar Gvaramadze worked in GYLA in different positions. During this period she served as a lawyer in the Project and was engaged in work with the Legal Aid Center as a lawyer. She has been an assistant-professor at Tbilisi State University since 2008. In 2009-2011 Tamar occupied different managerial positions in the public sector, working in the Ministry of Education and Science and the Internal Revenue Service. Tamar Gvaramadze holds the degree of Doctor of Law from the faculty of law, Tbilisi State University.
Dr. Armen Mazmanyan, Director, Apella Institute, Yerevan
Armen Mazmanyan is the Director of the Apella Institute and its Center for Constitutional Studies. He obtained his PhD in Law from the European University Institute in 2009 after a four-year intensive research on constitutional review in post-Soviet countries. He has had several articles and chapters on comparative constitutional law and politics published by international journals and publishing houses. His most recent article, Failing Constitutionalism, was published in 2013 by “Global Constitutionalism”, a Cambridge journal with a famous focus on contemporary trends in transnational constitutionalism.
Dr. Mazmanyan taught comparative and international law in the American University of Armenia between 2003 and 2012 and held research positions in different universities in Europe and the US, most recently in Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Columbia University Law School and the Center for Law and Cosmopolitan Values at the University of Antwerp. He also frequently advises international organizations and NGOs on legal reforms and democratic institutions in countries transitioning to democracy.
Armen Mazmanyan’s expertise includes constitutional research, human rights, democratization, political economy of development, elections and electoral integrity, European law and integration, and international law.
Anna Sevortian, Executive Director, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin
Anna is the Executive Director at the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. She is a former Director at the Human Rights Watch–Russia, and has a 15-year experience of working on civil society and human rights in the former Soviet Union. Ms. Sevortian was Galina Starovoitova Fellow at the Wilson Centre in Washington, DC and Deputy Director of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights in Moscow. Over the years, she contributed to 40 research and evaluation projects and publications in Russian and English. Anna holds a Mid-Career MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and a journalism diploma from Moscow State University.