Cornell Law School Research Fellow Speaks Out on Georgian Conflict
"If you perform your duties as a lawyer in an authoritarian regime, you become part of the system," says Anna Dolidze. "That's when I started working to change the system."
Dolidze, Cornell Law School Research Fellow and human rights lawyer, serves as an advisor to the United Nations on issues of human rights in the former Soviet Union. She has participated in high level meetings between senior European Union leaders and Georgia government officials, making recommendations to the international community on how to promote reforms in key Georgian institutions. She is a sought-after speaker and writer on the current Georgian conflict and human rights issues.
Dolidze has been advising the Open Society Institute, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the United Nations Development Program. She recently worked with the Russian Justice Initiative to document the human rights impact of the Russian-Georgian war in South Ossetia, Georgia. Currently, she serves as a consultant for Human Rights Watch on issues in Uzbekistan.
As former president of Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), the leading human rights organization in Georgia, Dolidze targeted legal reform, built civil society networks, and advocated for government transparency, accountability, and criminal justice reform. "Many people within the legal system in Georgia have been there since the Soviet times," said Dolidze, "and we believe that true democratic change requires new people with new thoughts." In that role, Dolidze often appeared before the Supreme and Constitutional Courts of Georgia, arguing to abolish legislation that infringes upon fundamental human rights.
Dolidze recommends that the international community refrain from what she calls "the fallacy of electoralism, that merely holding elections will channel political action into peaceful contests among elites and accord public legitimacy to the winners in those contests." She urges the international community to focus instead on furthering reforms in Georgian institutions, judiciary electoral commissions, and media monitoring agencies.
Dolidze graduated from the Tbilisi State University Law School in 2002. She also has a Masters' degree in International Law from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. In 2007 Dolidze was hosted as a Podell Scholar at Risk at the New York University Law School, and she presently teaches Human Rights at the Elmira Correctional Facility through the Bard College Prison Initiative.
Dolidze has been quoted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, dozens of legal publications, and on international radio and television on issues related to Georgia and the former Soviet Union. Her human rights advocacy work is subject of a forthcoming documentary At the Top of My Voice funded by Scholars at Risk Network and Vivian Prins Foundation.
Her husband, writer, scholar and human rights activist, Irakli Kakabadze, co-founded the committee that led to the Rose Revolution, the non-violent change of power in Georgia in 2003. The couple came to Ithaca, NY as part of the Ithaca Cities of Asylum Writers-in-Exile program.