Legal approximation towards European standards in the South Caucasus

Project description

Title: Legal approximation towards European standards in the South Caucasus
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
Lead executing agencies: Ministry of Justice in Armenia; Ministry of Justice in Azerbaijan; Ministry of Justice and Judicial-Legal Council in Georgia
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Context

In their efforts to develop and improve their legal systems, the countries of the South Caucasus are working at different speeds. All three countries now take European standards for their orientation, including, for instance, the European Convention on Human Rights. However, despite the considerable progress made, the change processes in the legal and judicial systems are not yet sufficiently well advanced. This has an adverse influence on citizens’ confidence in their respective states, and it undermines the counties’ economic development.

Ongoing reforms in many legal areas are often constrained by technical obstacles, and training institutions work without any coordination. The public knows too little about the new laws, and this legal uncertainty poses a serious impediment to economic development in the region. The high potential for conflict hampers regional cooperation.

Objective

Through a regional dialogue, progress has been made in aligning the legal and judicial systems in the South Caucasus with European standards

Approach

The GIZ project provides advice to institutional partners in each country, while focusing on five areas of activity. In doing so, it also exploits the potential benefits of regional cooperation between the separate countries.

Dialogue on the rule of law: Legal issues affecting the region are mainstreamed using networking activities and dialogue events for legal professionals. The issues are addressed in greater depth at regional forums.

Advice on strategies and legislation: The project supports legislative and strategic initiatives in all three countries, where its main partners are the relevant ministries. It is also working to enhance the inclusion of civil society in participatory processes.

Fair trials, enforcement and legal security: By getting international rule-of-law initiatives and organisations involved, the project is strengthening the countries’ orientation towards the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Integrated legal education: In this area, the project supports the application of laws by the judiciaries and administrations. It is devising and implementing new training concepts, providing organisational advice for judges and other legal practitioners, and assisting the partners with the publication of specialist literature.

Raising public awareness of the law: Here, the project cooperates with civil society groups to carry out legal information campaigns, in order to increase people’s awareness of their rights and their ability to uphold them.

Results

Many areas of the legal framework affecting civil and administrative laws and the judiciary now conform to modern standards and are used by the citizens. The provision of advice on legal reforms has contributed much to the greater protection of private ownership, and to ensuring that freedom of contract is regarded as a fundamental principle of business activity.

The 'Transformation Lawyers' winter academy, which is conducted in collaboration with the Hertie School of Governance and the Bucerius Law School, has so far brought together more than 120 young lawyers. They have gained increased professional knowledge and soft skills; and professional exchanges now take place between the different countries thanks to the ‘Transformation Lawyers’ alumni network.