H.E. Kaha Imnadze – Georgia and His Journey

From Ministry Intern to Assistant to President Shevardnadze to Georgia’s PR to the UN

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Tweet: Honor & Privilege

“My 9 year stint as Georgia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UN came to an end. Representing my country was [an] honor and [a] privilege, working alongside with world’s finest diplomats (many of whom have become my good personal friends) – the most gratifying” – Tweeted Ambassador Kaha Imnadze, the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations, a 53 year old consummate diplomat with 33 years of service.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze with President Shevardnadze

NATO, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg

Ambassador Imnadze started as an intern at the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1989, while Georgia was a part of the Soviet Union, and 3 years later, despite his young age, was among those few who rocked the cradle of the nascent independent Georgian diplomacy after Georgia regained independence upon the voluntary dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was among those first-generation Georgian diplomats sent abroad, once the foreign missions of the young Georgian republic got established. Brussels was his first posting. In 1994, Kaha Imnadze became the first Georgian who sat at the NATO headquarters as a Liaison Officer when the Alliance was still at sixteen nations, while at the same time, he was a political counselor at the Georgian Embassy to Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze with President Shevardnadze – signed “with sincerely love, respect and trust”

Deputy NSA, and then Assistant to President Eduard Shevardnadze

His hard work and dedication to his country did not go unnoticed. One of his reports, containing recommendations on restructuring Georgia’s security architecture to meet the new demands of an independent country, ended up on President Eduard Shevardnadze’s desk. Shortly after, Kaha Imnadze was appointed to the National Security Council of Georgia as the Deputy Secretary and the Deputy National Security Advisor to President Eduard Shevardnadze, and become part of the small group that worked on the new National Security Concept and spearheading the reform of the defense and security architecture. In 2000, Kaha Imnadze was elevated to be the Assistant to the President and his spokesperson, thus becoming privy to many events that defined the fate of the new-young Georgia, including her strategic function of connector and the host of major oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian to the Mediterranean, and with all the blessings and curses of geo-politics pertaining to the Caucasus, a narrow isthmus of renewed rivalry among major powers, and global and regional actors.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze at the GA Hall in 2000

President Shevardnadze to Kaha: “With sincere love, appreciation and trust”

“With sincere love, appreciation and trust” – wrote President Shevardnadze on the photograph for the man who served his country, as a dedicated civil servant, and his President, as a trusted aide and counselor, until the last day in the office and resigned with President Shevardnadze in 2003. Those tumultuous years, for the sake of history, already warrant a book from the one who has not only seen a lot but was a part of it all – perhaps the only responsibility Kaha Imnadze, as Georgia’s unrelenting patriot, has so far been persistently avoiding.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze UNGA 2000, Hotel Peninsula, with President Shevardnadze, Ambassador to Washington Tedo Japaridze and Georgia’s 1st PR to UN Petre Chkheidze

Shevardnadze: Launches Waves of Intersecting Destiny
As a personal privilege of authorship, I add a personal facet about the war-wise, loyal and ever-hopeful grandfather and then-Foreign Minister Shevardnadze of the USSR, then-led by Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev who dared to embrace both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush to create a better tomorrow for all humanity: allowed the USSR to voluntarily dissolve, and its member nations, including, Russia,  joining with the United States to harness Hope itself to escape the Cold War for a warm and fuzzy honeymoon of the union of the then-twin Great Powers.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze with President Shevardnadze – press brief

The mid to late-1980’s was pregnant with that Hope. It was in that milieu, as having been a member of the Speaker Tip O’Neill’s Club and a then-member of the National Advisory Council South Asian Affairs (which I now chair, since being sworn in on July 12, 2007 by NYS Justice Francis Nicolai on Capital Hill with representative of NY D. A. Robert M. Morgenthau and inter alia Congressional leaders Gary Ackerman, Ed Towns, Eliot Engel and Greg Meeks participating), while then-chairing the board of directors of a school for children with “special needs,” having met with the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education, that I had a small role in then-FM Shevardnadze’s “special” grandchild being admitted to a loving place in New Jersey. So, it remains a colossal loss of Hope and wasted Destiny, that the expected union between the USSR and United States did not come with a dowery of an army of American lawyers and CPAs to help the desired merger of civil capitalist society to succeed fully. Many of today’s conflagrations are directly due to that lack of dowery, and the misjoinder that followed. But, I digress; so, back to dearest Kaha.

H.E. Kaha Imnadzewith President Shevardnadze, exiting the White House

Ten Years to Star in Civil Society, Before an Invited Return

Kaha would then spend ten years in private sector, hedge funds and thinks tanks, and as an international actor, only to complete the circle and return to diplomacy again in 2013 when Georgia called upon a loyal son to return to the service of his country. So he did, and took the position of Georgia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze with Robert Watters, vice-president of Lockheed Martin European Office and former US Joint Chiefs, General John Malkhaz Shalikashvili (Watters and Shalikashvili were personal friends and classmates). The meeting is in Georgia

“1st time I sat in #GeneralAssembly Hall at Georgia’s seat was #UNGA55 in 2000 (not counting coming for #SecurityCouncil in 1993). 22 years later, #UNGA76, my last session, and incidentally Georgia has the very same spot in the GA hall. Iceland right behind us. Circle of life” – Tweeted Kaha Imnadze

Well, this return to diplomatic service has indeed been abundant with fulfillment for Kaha Imnadze and success for Georgia. Ambassador Imnadze not only defended and advanced his country’s interests with passion and wit, but always found time to take off his national hat and put on an international one to make his contribution to UN goals and agenda, as a true believer in multilateralism. He was a co-chair of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations on the Security Council Reform, a co-facilitator of the Political Declaration on the Universal Health Coverage that incidentally came just before the world got engulfed in the COVID pandemic. He also co-facilitated the ECOSOC and HLPF Review processes, as well as the modalities for the Trafficking in Persons, chaired a Committee, served on board of UN bodies, was among those who worked and adopted the Agenda 2030 and launched the SDG16+ showcase first in Georgia, later continued in Sierra Leone and Timor Leste.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze ground breaking of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceihan pipeline construction

Ambassador Imnadze was among the small group of Ambassadors together with colleagues from Denmark, Fiji, Mexico, Qatar, Rwanda and Singapore, that initiated a process resulting in a resolution that eventually was co-sponsored by 166 nations and adopted by consensus, putting the UN Secretary General’s Report on “Our Common Agenda” on the actual working agenda of UNGA76 and subsequent ones for the Membership to act upon and deliver on our global commons, and bridging them with global governance. UN work on Peace and Security is often marred by a veto cast at the Security Council by one of its Permanent Members. Last April, UN adopted by the consensus a resolution that automatically warrants an emergency UNGA session for consideration of the issue if a veto had been cast at the Security Council.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze at UN, meeting with Press

The process was initiated by Liechtenstein, and Georgia and her Ambassador had been among those who stood at the core of this and many other initiatives aimed at strengthening multilateralism. While the above list is rather inconclusive, Ambassador Imnadze, in his farewell tweets, mentioned the one achievement that mattered for him most. In 2018, to mark the 850th anniversary of Georgia’s 12th century thinker and poet Shota Rustaveli and his landmark “Knight in a Panther Skin,” the UN issued a commemorative stamp on May 26th, Georgia’s National Day (also as a tribute to the centennial of Georgia’s First Democratic Republic).

H.E. Kaha Imnadze at UN (addressing UNGA on Ukraine)

Truly unprecedented, as it was the first, and probably the only time that the United Nations honored a historical person that lived before the creation of the organization, not to mention in medieval times. Last year, for the first time, Georgia presented UN with a National Gift – another achievement of Ambassador Imnadze, through his tireless effort in making it happen, and securing a “prime location” to display the gift at the intersection of the corridors leading to the Security Council – which was a manuscript of Rustaveli’s “Knight in Panther’s Skin.” After all, the words said by this great Georgian thinker in the 12th century were so much ahead of time, and so strongly resonate today, including in harmony with UN ideals and goals:

H.E. Kaha Imnadze the Veto Initiative core group

“He is his own foe, who seeks not a friend”, “What we give, makes us richer, what is hoarded is lost”, “Lion’s whelp is equally lion, though female or male it be.”

 

 

 

Ranju Batra’s 7 Years to Get the USPS Diwali Stamp Inspired Amb. Imnadze

As Ambassador Imnadze remarked during the farewell event on July 9, 2022 hosted for him by Ranju Batra & I:

“[t]he idea of a UN stamp for Rustaveli was born at the ceremony honoring the US Postal Service’s Diwali stamp and the ‘7 year indomitable effort by Ranju Batra who made it possible,’ [a phrase to memorialize history, by then-Belarusian P.R. Andrei Dapkunius presiding over the 2016 honorific event]. The 2016 event was co-organized by Belarus, Georgia, India, and co-sponsored by many other nations, twenty four nations in all, served as my inspiration to also dare the impossible and get a UN stamp. Today, the Diwali Foundation’s ‘Power of One’ awards have become true Oscars of Diplomacy, and at the December 2019 ceremony, 50 UN member-nations supported it.”

H.E. Kaha Imnadze with Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Sec.Gen at UNGAL HL on Tourism

With Covid under manageable control, the Diwali Foundation USA’s Power of One Awards ceremony at the UN, co-organized and co-sponsored, will resume later this year.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze meeting with UN Women_presenting the Georgian Rugby’s National team Jersey to ASG Asa Regner, Deputy Executive Director

Got SG of World Tourism Organization and Judge of Int’l Criminal Court Elected

UN is not only the field of co-operation (in order to achieve something, one needs to constantly build alliances. Such is the nature of multilateralism), but also the arena for competition for much coveted positions at various UN bodies, agencies, organizations and treaty bodies. Ambassador Imnadze arguably takes a particular pride in two great victories he brought for his country, electing Georgian nationals, Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili as the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, and Judge Gocha Lordkipanidze to the International Criminal Court.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze UNGA on SG report OurCommonAgenda

Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia

Georgia has two of its regions – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia – under the Russian occupation since the war of 2008. Needless to say, how important the UNGA resolution is on this subject. Just last month, 95 countries voted in favor of the Georgian resolution, which was co-sponsored by 61 nations, taking co-ownership of this painful issue. A remarkable increase to 95 from 64, that Ambassador “inherited” upon arrival to the UN in 2013. Because of Ambassador Imnadze’s efforts, “the Situation in Georgia” is also firmly on the agenda of the UN Security Council with annual discussions around the August War anniversary.

Cherish Peaceful Settlement of Conflicts

H.E. Kaha Imnadze Rustaveli stamp _ unveiling

“Peaceful settlement of conflicts through meaningful negotiations has no alternative. I cherish the hope that we shall have one in my lifetime” – Kaha Imnadze Tweeted.

Rustaveli stamp – stamp

Indeed, there is no alternative. And it is uplifting to see this coming from a person – a Georgian – who had lost his immediate family members during the conflict in his country. Common sense, compassion, understanding and mutual compromise should be the driver, not a lust for a win or revenge. This is so much more pertinent against the background of the war in Ukraine, which has a global military spillover potential, while its economic repercussions are already seen and felt in different parts of the world, including at gas pumps in America to Sri Lanka.

Georgia’s Gift to UN_Rustaveli’s Kinght In the Panther’s Skin_Official Ceremony_the Manuscript

H.E. Kaha Imnadze – a World Class Diplomat

In these trying times that the world and UN are going through, losing Ambassador Imnadze’s smiling embrace, voice at UN, in its halls, corridors and private meetings, is a loss for diplomacy and multilateralism, as many of his colleagues openly say. Indeed, H.E. Kaha Imnadze is a world class diplomat.  It was not the passion and hard work that earned Ambassador Imnadze the respect of his peers, but his ability to talk to everyone, even if there had been fundamental disagreements, and his efforts to understand the underlying reasons and trying to see the things with the eyes of his interlocutor, his proclivity to build bridges, and his un-shattered belief in multilateralism and UN’s convening power that earned him the most valued and rare commodity today: trust. Perhaps, that’s why there have been so many farewell parties hosted by his peers to honor the work and camaraderie with Ambassador Kaha Imnadze: from Azerbaijan to Barbados,  Italy to Singapore, Turkey to Australia, Denmark to Namibia, Pakistan to the Netherlands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to Kazakhstan, and the Holy See, and by many more friends within the UN community.

Georgia’s Gift to UN_Rustaveli’s Kinght In the Panther’s Skin_Official Ceremony_USG Atul Khare_Ambassador Kaha Imnadze_Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili

“Humbled to see such warmth coming from my dear colleagues, many of whom have become my close personal friends. Appreciation coming from the peers is the greatest honor of all” – tweeted Ambassador Imnadze.

Georgia’s Weight at UN Increased

Georgia’s weight at the UN did increase considerably during Ambassador Imnadze’s nine yearslong tenure. Punching above one’s weight – a standard respected by champions – became a norm, and every year the bar for Georgia got higher. Led by example and dedication from a true leader, the stellar team of the Georgian Mission, that Ambassador Imnadze never missed to acknowledge and praise, achieved miracles. For a small country to stand out among 193 member-strong UN community is not easy, but Georgia did it well and with grace. As they say in the UN, there are countries that have strong arms that carry their Ambassadors, and there are Ambassadors that have strong wings that fly their countries higher. Perhaps, it is Kaha Imnadze’s pride of representing Georgia, Georgians, and Georgian history to the world body that gave Ambassador Imnadze his wings. The moment of handover – from one ambassador to the next – is a proud one for Georgia. As for dearest Kaha Imnadze, his next stop is Ottawa, Canada, to enhance bilateral relations – sometimes, perhaps, with great Georgian wine gracing the diplomatic table.

All photos were taken from social media posted by Ambassador Imnadze.

A related feature: a pictorial farewell for the well loved Lika & H.E. Kaha Imnadze

Related article:

Ambassadorial Farewell for Georgia’s PR Kaha Imnadze

About the author

Author profile

Ravi Batra, starting September 11, 2021, is a publisher of The America Times Company Ltd., and since January 2022, is the Editor-in-Chief. He is a member of the National Press Club, in Washington D.C., and a member of its "Freedom of the Press" and "International Correspondents" Teams/Committees.

A member of the bar since 1981, he is the head of a boutique law firm in Manhattan, The Law Firm of Ravi Batra, P.C., that handles complex constitutional, sovereignty, torture, civil and criminal cases, representing governments, corporates and individuals, with landmark legal victories, including, libel in fiction, in “Batra v. Dick Wolf.” He is Chairman & CEO, Greenstar Global Energy Corp., King Danylo of Galicia International Ltd., Mars & Pax Advisors, Ltd., Chairman of National Advisory Council on South Asian Affairs, and since September 2021, Advisor for Legal and Humanitarian Affairs to the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the United Nations. He is invited by various governments to address High Level Ministerial events, including, on Counter-Terrorism, including, Astana (Nur-Sultan), Dushanbe, Minsk and Delhi. He has testified in Congress as an invitee of the Chair, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and interacted with U.S. Department of State from 1984 -1990, and then again, from 2006, during the tenures of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo and Antony Blinken.

He has served as Commissioner of New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), Trustee on New York State IOLA Board, New York State Judicial Screening Committee for the Second Judicial Department, City Bar’s Judicial Committee, Vice-Chair of Kings County Democratic County Committee’s Independent Judicial Screening Committee for the then-2nd Judicial Department of Brooklyn and Staten Island, Chair of NYSTLA’ Judicial Independence Committee, with many more bar leadership roles, including, NYSBA’s House of Delegates for four years. He has served as Advisor for Legal & Human Rights Affairs to the Permanent Mission of Ukraine post-annexation of Crimea till 2021, and Legal Advisor to numerous nations’ permanent missions to the U. N. since 2009, including, India, Pakistan, Honduras and Malta. He has served: as Global Special Counsel to The Antonov Company in Ukraine, a state-owned company, and was registered with the Justice Dept pursuant to FARA; and as Special Global Advisor to Rector/President of both - National Aviation University of Ukraine and National Technical University of Ukraine/KPI. He remains involved in geopolitics and public policy since the mid-1980's, starting with being on House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s Speaker’s Club and appointed member of NACSAA during President Ronald Reagan’s tenure. In 1988, he was part of U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese’s Delegation to Japan to resolve bilateral trade imbalance. He regularly interacts with the multilateral diplomatic community, and during the High Level UNGA Debate, with heads of State/Government. He is sought for his views as a speaker and writer.