Upon the invitation of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, the Prague Process organised the Workshop on the Potential of Digitalisation in the Migration Context in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 24-26 October 2023. The workshop gathered over 70 participants from 16 countries as well as the European Commission, EUAA, IOM, EU Delegation to Georgia, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and independent experts. It represented the first activity of the newly launched Prague Process Digital Lab, a designated area of work within the Prague Process Training Academy and Migration Observatory, which will explore digitalisation as a horizontal issue across the various thematic areas of the Prague Process Action Plan.
The Workshop featured four sessions focusing on existing digital tools and solutions and corresponding technological gaps in the PP countries in such areas as integration (also partly reintegration), international protection, legal (labour) migration and migration & development. It allowed to zoom in on up-and-coming solutions such as blockchain and AI and opened the floor to discussion about data privacy and the ethical implications of using digital solutions in the migration context, as well as the role of digitalisation in migrant (re)integration.
As was underlined by Tamar Tkeshelashvili, First Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia, and highlighted in the various case studies, digitalisation represents the way forward in managing migration more efficiently and making processes secure. By unifying systems, consolidating databases and automating workflows, processes become faster for officials and migrants alike. At the same time, new technologies also bring novel risks related to the operations of smuggling networks. The efforts to leverage digital technologies should see closer coordination between state actors and specialists with different profiles and require the rewiring of organisations and mindsets to ensure that new tools bring sensible benefits.
On 25 October following the main part of the Workshop agenda, participants attended the ICMPD’s 30th Anniversary high-level reception, where they had a chance to learn about the longstanding cooperation between Georgia and ICMPD on migration and asylum.
The Workshop ended with a visit to the Tbilisi Public Service Hall - a one-stop-shop where Georgian and foreign nationals can obtain the necessary documents, renew passports or residency cards, register marriages, property, and birth, among other services.
The work of the Digital Lab will see follow-up activities addressing the interests and needs expressed by participating states.