Journal of Constitutional Law - Vol. 1 (2021) - Special Edition

The 1921 Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Georgia

№1-2 / 2021 Issue date: December 25, 2021

Merab Turava: Foreword

Author: Rainer Arnold


Modern constitutionalism is based on a fundamental order of values centered on the human being: human dignity, freedom and equality. These anthropocentric values are functionally interrelated. The rule of law transfers these values to the sphere of the institutions, which must embody these values themselves and realize them in relation to individuals. A genuine constitution contains this order of basic values, whether in the written text or implicitly. These values are universal, at least in their functional core. Accordingly, modern constitutionalism is characterized by three essential tendencies: individualization, constitutionalization and internationalization. 
The 1921 Constitution of the Republic of Georgia can be considered modern and in line with the essential standards of contemporary constitutionalism, especially with regard to its system of fundamental values.

Paper: Contemporary Constitutionalism and the Anthropocentric Value Order – On the Modernity of the 1921 Constitution of Georgia

Pages: 11-46


Author: Irakli Kldiashvili


On the eve of the 20th century the Constitution of Georgia became one of the most progressive legal documents in the region. It did not only establish the tripartite separation of political power among the governmental branches, but it also fully expressed the fundamental values and rights shared by the then contemporary western community. 
The concept of a written constitution, along with the fundamental rights rooted in the natural law philosophy, triggered the rise of an entirely new perspective for the in-depth definition of constitutionalism. Unsurprisingly, the Georgian Constitution of 1921 reflected these values in its text and became the basis for its modern successor. 
In this light, it is worth remembering the roots of the American fundamental values that made their way into the first written constitution in the world – the Constitution of the United States of America. 

Paper: Understanding of American Constitutionalism and Fundamental Rights, A Historical Retrospect and the Values Established by the 1921 Constitution of Georgia  

Pages: 47-60


Author: Malkhaz Matsaberidze


The founders of the Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-1921) considered the drafting of the basic law of the country, the Constitution, to be particularly important and saw its adoption as the most significant event after the Declaration of Independence. The Constituent Assembly of Georgia (1919-1921) drafted and adopted the Georgian Constitution on 21 February 1921, which holds its honorable place in the history of world constitutionalism. It is based on two basic principles – the freedom of the nation and the freedom of an individual. The Constitution provided solid foundation for the development of the Georgian state with its coherent democratism. In Soviet times, the 1921 Constitution was a symbol of what the Georgian State should have been like. And after the restoration of independence, it was indisputable, that the 1921 Constitution had to serve as the basis for the new constitution of the country.

Paper: The 1921 Constitution of Georgia: A Symbol of the Independence of Georgia 

Pages: 61-78


Author: Dimitry Gegenava


The Constitution plays an essential role in the history and political-legal life of any state, even if it only has a formal status. The First Constitution of Georgia had a special fate, it did not just become a legal document, but it also constituted a symbol of the country’s independence and the historical-cultural development of the country. 
The Constitution of 1921 is one of the most remarkable legal acts that was enshrouded in myths even in process of being accepted. As the years go by, the myths about it are only strengthening. The reason behind this is not only the distinctive structure, history, and content of the current Constitution, but also the unsustainable status of the current constitution and the numerous changes, which have led to skeptical, often even to contemptuous attitudes. 
The paper discusses some exaggerated and some considerations already enveloped in myth, that are related to the First Constitution of Georgia, assesses their credibility and authenticity.

Paper: The First Constitution of Georgia: Between Myths and Reality 

Pages: 79-86


Author: Vakhtang Menabde


One century has passed since the adoption of the Constitution of Georgia of 21 February 1921. Until now the 1921 Constitution remains as a document, which simply plays the role of the mythological foundation of legitimation, leading to the thwarting of its perception as a living document. Since the restoration of independence, every attempt of its analysis is marked by this factor. The undertaken analytical work is limited by the modern perspective and the theoretical framework of liberalism. The supreme law of the First Republic does not succumb easily to these methodological tools, which makes it impossible to study the importance and the basis of the document, as well as its relation to the epoch of that time thoroughly. The present article aims to eradicate this flaw. 
The debates held on the constitutional issues at that time, as well as the final documents reveal clearly that the founders made the choice in favor of the direct democracy. This model is based on the unity of citizens and the state (and is thus opposed to the liberal theory, which conceptualizes the two as antagonistic elements) and aspires to implement this model through the application of specific mechanisms. In this system, a voter plays an important role in everyday politics and its role is not circumscribed to voting in periodic elections, whereas the electoral and institutional systems themselves are organized in a way to maximally simplify it for the public to wield influence on political processes. The most interesting part is the fact that the Georgian Mensheviks did not simply chose a theoretical model and mechanically transplanted it in Georgia, but they adjusted it to the existing context, provided critical analysis and developed it further. 
Thus, the present essay analyzes the Constitution of 21 February 1921 through the theoretical framework of direct democracy. And for this purpose, it will employ the methods of logical analysis, historical and comparative research and will be based on the scholarship, historical sources, normative and archive materials. In this respect, the present article aims to make the long, polyphonic and dynamic process of the drafting of the Constitution understandable for the reader; to show the context and the paths leading to specific decisions, some of which are simple, straightforward and clear, and some are winding, untraveled and one might even say, dangerous. 

Paper: The Idea of Direct Democracy in the Constitution of the First Republic of Georgia 

Pages: 87-137



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