The Public Council of the Republic of Armenia (2009-2015) Brief description of the structure and activities
The Public Council
of the Republic of Armenia
Brief description of the structure and activities
The Public Council of the Republic of Armenia (henceforth, PCA – the Public Council of Armenia) was established on 11 March 2009 by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Armenia.
Taking into consideration that activities of the PCA for 2009-2015 have earned approval of both the public and the RA President, and considering expedient operations of that institution as a permanently functioning body enjoying powers under law, it has been decided to include a provision on the PCA in the package of 2015-2016 constitutional amendments, enabling the RA National Assembly to approve a separate Law on Public Council.
(option for your consideration)
Whereas, activities of the PCA for 2009-2015 have earned approval of both the public and the RA President,
Whereas, it is considered expedient to make the institution of the PCA a permanently functioning body enjoying powers under law,
Now therefore, it has been decided to include a provision on the PCA in the package of 2015-2016 constitutional amendments enabling the RA National Assembly to approve a separate Law on Public Council.
The goals of the PCA are:
1. Contribute to finding edges of reconciliation in attempts of finding compromising solutions regarding interests of different layers of the society and natural contradictions arising between them, by ensuring a dialogue amongst them;
2. Promote dialogue between the society and public authorities, contribute to increasing the level of involvement of the society in the public administration, and support implementation of public supervision over the activities of state bodies;
3. Contribute to sustainable development and enhancement /empowerment/ of the civil society and promotion of the process of establishment of the civil society and its institutions in the RA;
4. Contribute to increasing efficiency of operations of state bodies, through presentation and protection of interests of large layers of the society in the development public policy, and through implementation of public expertise of decision and actions of state authorities regarding issues of public resonance /concern/;
5. Assist in the development of long-term development program provisions on individual areas of the public life and encourage discussion of such provisions among large layers of the society.
The PCA consists of 36 members and 12 committees by areas of activities (henceforth, sectoral committees). The RA President appoints 12 out of the 36 members, and thereafter, they are tasked to form 12 sectoral committees. At their sessions, the committees elect chairpersons who become next 12 members of the PCA. The remaining 12 members are elected by 24 members the PCA, through closed secret voting.
Trade unions, unions of businessmen and manufacturers, non-governmental organizations and associations youth and student organizations, mass media, union of veterans, scientific-educational unions, unions of consumers’ rights protection, religions organizations, Diaspora structures, local self-government bodies and other structures involved in respective areas can nominate representatives to serve in the committees.
At present, 1200 non-governmental organizations have delegated 2084 representatives to serve in the PCA committees. Regions of Armenia are represented by around 500 members. Females represent 32.8% (683) of the total number of PCA committee members (2084).
PCA’s 12 sectoral committees:
1. Committee on Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
2. Committee on State and Legal Affairs
3. Committee on Civil Society Development
4. Committee on Financial-Economic and Budgetary Affairs
5. Committee on Agriculture and Environment
6. Committee on Health Care and Social Affairs
7. Committee on Territorial Administration and Local-Self Government
8. Committee on Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs
9. Committee on Entrepreneurial Activities and Consumers’ Affairs
ձեռնարկատիրական և սպառողների իրավունքների պաշտպանության
10. Committee on National Minority Affairs
11. Committee on Demographic and Gender Affairs
12. Committee on Religion, Diaspora and International Integration Affairs
սփյուռքի, կրոնի և միջազգային ինտեգրման հարցերի
The PCA committees have the power to submit independently issues, conclusions and recommendations to the relevant government authorities. Within the frameworks of the PCA, 70 subcommittees (working groups) function to discuss certain issues.
According to the Bylaws, the PCA has the following main functions and powers:
• Conduct, on its own initiative or at the request of /by the application of/ an interested state body, public expertise of the RA laws, draft laws and government decisions;
• Within its frameworks, hold discussions and public hearings, develop recommendations both on current issues and on matters of strategic importance;
• Discuss issues raised by the public at sessions of the PCA committees or PCA plenary sessions, submit conclusions and decisions to relevant government authorities and the public;
The PCA submits its decisions and conclusions to the RA President, the Government of Armenia, the RA National Assembly and the public.
In the course of its activities, the PCA has discussed numerous issues of public concern. The section below introduces several of the issues solved by the interference of the PCA.
ISSUES SUBMITTED TO THE CONSIDERATION OF THE PCA BY STATE STRUCTURES
1. In 2009, the RA President requested the PCA to submit recommendations on declaring an amnesty. The issue was discussed at 12 sectoral committees of the PCA: recommendations of committees on principles of selecting groups subject to amnesty were finalized at the plenary session of the PCA and a respective decision thereof was submitted to the RA President.
2. In 2009, the RA President sought PCA’s opinion regarding pre-signed protocols “On the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey” and “On Development of bilateral relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey”. The issue was discussions by all PCA committees, results were summarized at the PCA plenary session and a relevant decision was submitted to the RA President.
3. In 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia applied to the PCA seeking its conclusion on making amendments to the RA Law on “Transplantation of Human Organs and/or Tissues”. After comprehensive discussion of the issue at the PCA Committee on Health Care and Social Affairs, with the involvement of leading specialists, the PCA submitted its conclusion to the RA Constitutional Court.
4. The respective committee of the PCA conduced expertise of the draft law on making amendments in the RA Law on Non-Governmental Organization and submitted its comments and recommendations to the RA Ministry of Justice. At first, the recommendations were not accepted, however, after an international expertise, the majority of the PCA committee’s recommendations were considered and accepted by the RA National Assembly.
5. The RA Government requested the PCA to discuss and submit its standpoint on the RA Draft Law on Legal Regime of the State of Emergency. The PCA discussed the issued and conducted expertise. PCA’s recommendations were partially accepted by the RA Government.
ISSUES RAISED BY THE PUBLIC AND ON THE INITIATIVE OF THE PCA
1. The PCA, in response to the request /application/ of the Trade Unions of Armenia, discussed provisions regarding the trade unions stipulated in the Draft Law on “Making Amendments and Restatements to the RA Labor Code”. With the participation of representatives of trade unions, a representative of RA Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, as well as the Chairman of the relevant Standing Committee of the RA National Assembly, the PCA held discussions on the Draft Law and submitted recommendations, which were partially accepted.
2. Some layers of the Armenian civil society, in particular, the great mass of active youth and environmentalists raised numerous issues regarding urban development of Yerevan (inadmissibility of demolishment of Mashtots Park, future destiny of “Moscow” summer Cinema Theater, etc). In close collaboration with the above-mentioned groups, the PCA applied to different state structures and due to joint efforts reached positive results.
3. Active circles of the society, particularly intellectuals and young employees engaged in the IT sector raised a number of problematic issues concerning the RA Law on Funded Pensions. With the participation of interested stakeholders, the PCA held discussions, formed a working group assigned to develop and submit comments and recommendations, which were considered in the amended version of the RA Law on Funded Pensions later adopted by the RA National Assembly, thereby considerably mitigating the social tension among the public.
4. The PCA received a written request from a group of employees regarding the future destiny of Yerevan Physics Institute after A. Alikhanyan. Based on the request, the PCA held hearings and discussions, and adopted a decision, which was delivered to the RA President and the Prime Minister.
5. The PCA, together with active circles of the Armenian society, raised the issue of unlawful actions of several staff members of Nubarashen 11 Special School towards the schoolchildren and followed the unbiased progress of the criminal case incriminated against activist M. Sukhudyan. In the result, accusations were exculpated and individuals who had committed unlawful and immoral deeds were called to criminal liability.
6. The PCA held several discussions on the future destiny of the old terminal complex (round building) of “Zvartnots” Airport. The discussions were held also at the sessions of four PCA subcommittees, which voiced negative standpoint concerning the demolishment of the terminal complex. The follow-up session of the RA Government approved the Master Plan proposed by the concessionaire, yet some time later, the concessionaire decided not to demolish the old terminal complex and submitted recommendations regarding its future use.
7. The PCA raised the issue of efficient use of water resources, in particular passing of semi-closed water use systems from streaming fish breeding systems in Ararat Valley. The issue was submitted to the consideration of the RA President: it received positive response. Currently, the solution of the issue is in progress.
8. Following discussions with the TV companies, the PCA developed the Charter of Ethical Principles of TV and Radio Broadcasters, which was signed by almost all TV and Radio companies.
9. The PCA discussed, elaborated and submitted to the consideration of the RA state authorities the document on the “Need for Development of Cooperation in the RA Agricultural Sector”. The conclusions of the paper were incorporated in the RA Strategy of Sustainable Agricultural Development for 2010-2020 adopted by the Government of Armenia.
10. The PCA developed the “Strategy Concept of Development of Civil Society Organizations in the RA”, which was submitted for discussion of non-governmental organizations and large layers of the public; the paper was also submitted to the RA public authorities in the form of a draft. Thereafter, the Concept was published in the form of a booklet. The full text of the Concept is available at PCA’s website: www.publiccouncil.am
11. The PCA discussed the issue of “Approving the Family Year” and addressed its respective decision to the President and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. Recommendations were accepted and the issue of financing “Family Year” events was included in 2012 State Budget.
12. The Public Council of Armenia, on its initiative and the demand of the society, held many discussions on issues related to the education sector of Armenia: the PCA developed a package of recommendations (“Several Issues on the Organization of Educational Process”) and submitted it to the RA President during a meeting. A part of recommendations (general education administration system, a school structure) included in the package were accepted by the RA Ministry of Education.
13. Within its frameworks, the PCA discussed issues related to energy system of Armenia, in particular issues regarding renewable energy development. Recommendations were elaborated and submitted to the consideration of the RA Government.
14. The PCA discussed the issue of making relevant amendments in the RA Labor Code related to payment of disability benefits to employees, who became disabled during employment. A working group was formed in the PCA framework: a relevant written statement addressed to the RA President was developed.
15. Three PCA members serving in the independent commission for early conditional release from the sentence or for substitution of the remaining portion of the sentence with a lighter sentence regularly visit criminal-executive institutions, meet and interview the prisoners and submit the results of their findings to respective state commission and the PCA.
INTERNATIONAL TIES OF THE PCA
On July 7, 2010, in New York the Public Council joined the membership of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS), by the presentation of the AICESIS presidium, and participated in the works of the General Assembly of that international organization.
The PCA delegations participated in the works of all AICESIS General Assemblies (New York – 2010, Rome – 2011, Rio de Janeiro – 2012, Algiers – 2013, Bucharest – 2014), as well as in a number of thematic consultations.
During the mutual visits, bilateral agreements were signed with Economic and Social Council of Greece, Public Chamber of Russia, as well as economic and social councils of China, Portugal and Brazil.
In 2011, the Public Council of Armenia signed trilateral collaboration agreement with Economic and Social Council of Ukraine and the Public Chamber of Russia.
COMPOSITION OF THE PCA
• Vazgen Manukyan, President of the Public Council of Armenia
Since February 1988, member of the “Karabakh” Committee, leading body of the Pan-Armenian National Movement, and coordinator of “Karabakh” Committee since June 1988;
From 1990 to 2007, Deputy of the RA National Assembly; 1990-1991, RA Prime Minister; 1992-1993, RA Minister of Defense
• Robert Amirkhanyan, Honored Artist of the Republic of Armenia, composer, professor
• Anna Asatryan, Deputy Director of the Institute of Arts of the RA National Academy of Sciences, member of the Council of Elders of Yerevan, Doctor of Art Critics
• Lilit Asatryan, Chairman of the “Armenian Young Women’s Association” NGO
• Karen Bekaryan, Chairman of the “European Integration” NGO, Director of the “Armedia” informative-analytical agency, PhD in Physics and Mathematics
• Gagik Manasyan, General Director of the Armenian State Philharmonic Hall, Honored Worker of Culture of the Republic of Armenia, PhD in Pedagogical Sciences, Associate Professor
• :Anelka Grigoryan, Chairman of the Management Board of the Museum of History of the Republic of Armenia
• Astghik Gevorgyan, Chairman of the Union of Journalists, Member of the Council of Elders of Yerevan
• Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Museum-Institute of Armenian Genocide of the RA Academy of Sciences; Secretary of the State Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide; Member of the Council of Elders of Yerevan, PHD in History
• Hovhannes Zanazanyan, Skipper of “Ararat – 73” football team, Master of Sports of International grade, Head of the Department of Physical Culture and Sport of the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia, Honorary Professor
• Smbat Lputyan, chess player, Grandmaster, four times champion of Armenia, founder-president of Chess Academy of Armenia, First Vice-President of the Armenian Chess Federation, Head of “Chess and Sports” Department of the Armenian State Pedagogical University after Khachatur Abovyan, Member of Council of Elders Yerevan
• Edik Minasyan, Dean of the Faculty of History of the Yerevan State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor
• Artush Ghukasyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Doctor of Science (Physics and Mathematics), professor
• Grigor Badiryan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on State and Legal Affairs, member of the Board of Justice of the Republic of Armenia, expert of human rights of the Europe Council, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium in Armenia, Doctor of Juridical Sciences
• Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Civil Society Development, President of "Caucasus" Social Research Center; Candidate of Philosophical Sciences, associate professor
• Vazgen Safaryan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Financial-Economic and Budgetary Affairs, Chairman of the Union of Domestic Producers
• Yuriy Javadyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Agriculture and Environment, Deputy Chairman of Lake Sevan Expert Committee at the Office of the RA President, Candidate of Engineering Sciences
• Hayrapet Galstyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Health Care and Social Affairs, Corresponding member of the RA National Academy of Sciences, Chairman of the Administrative Board of the National Оncological Center, Chair of the Department of Oncology of the Yerevan State Medical University, Doctor of Medical Sciences, professor
• Koryun Arakelyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Territorial Administration and Local-Self Government, Member of the Writers’ Union of Armenia, Member of Union of Journalists of Armenia, Member of the National Commission on Television and Radio of the Republic of Armenia
• Karlos Ghazaryan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs, Former Minister of the RA Ministry of Internal Affairs, Major-General, General Director of “MIKA” Sports Complex /ազգային – missing in the Arm text/
• Arshak Sadoyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Entrepreneurial Activities and Consumers’ Affairs, Chairman of the “National Cooperation” NGO, RA National Assembly Deputy from 1990-2006
• Suren Zolyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on National Minority Affairs, Doctor of Philological Sciences, professor
• Elena Vardanyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee of Demographic and Gender Affairs, Head of the Department of History of Gyumri State Pedagogical University, docent, Candidate of Historical Sciences
• Ruben Safrastyan, Chairman of the PCA Committee on Religion, Diaspora and International Integration Affairs, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the of the RA National Academy of Sciences, Academician of the RA National Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Science, professor
• Robert Atoyan, Chief constructor of Yerevan Computer Research and Development Institute, Academician of the RA National Academy of Sciences, Member of the Presidium of the RA National Academy of Sciences, Laureate of the Lenin and State Prizes, Doctor of Engineering Sciences, docent, professor
• Karine Danielyan, Full member of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IAEES), Chairman of “For Sustainable Human Development” Association/UNEP National Committee, Vice-Mayor of Yerevan in 1990-1991, RA Minister of Nature Protection in 1991-1994, Professor of Yerevan State University, PhD in Geographical Sciences, Candidate of Biological Sciences
• Hovhannes Tadevosyan, Executive Director of “Masis Tobaco” LLC
• Henrik Hovhannisyan, Head of the Department of Theatre of the Institute of Arts of the RA National Academy of Sciences, Corresponding member of the RA National Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Arts Critics, professor
• Bishop Ter Markos Hovhannisyan, Primate of the diocese of Ukraine of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the “Armenia Inter-Church Charitable Round Table Foundation of the World Council of Churches”, Member of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions
• Ara Minasyan, Director of the "St. Grigor Lusavorich" Medical Centre; Head of Emergency Care and Disaster Medicine Department at Yerevan State Medical University, professor
• Hovik Musayelyan, Executive Director of “Synopsys Armenia” CJSC; member of the International Informatization Academy; Chairman of the commission of Annual President Awards Committee for the best student in the field of information technologies; Chairman of the commission of the Annual President Award Executive Committee; Member of presidium of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen of Armenia, Candidate of Engineering Sciences
• Hayk Sargsyan, Dean of the Faculty of Economics of Yerevan State University, Deputy Chief of Armenian Economic Union, Doctor of Economics
• Armen Ter-Tachatyan, Director of “Ter-Tachatyan” legal and business consulting company CJSC, advocate, Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Converse Bank” CJSC