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 Council in Georgia
Overall term: 2018 to 2020

Context

In their efforts to facilitate the ongoing development of their legal systems, the countries of the South Caucasus are working at different speeds. All countries are aligning themselves with European standards, including, for instance, the European Convention on Human Rights. Global agendas, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, establish ambitious targets with regard to the rule of law. However, despite the considerable progress made, the change processes taking hold throughout the legal and judicial systems are not yet sufficiently well advanced. This has an adverse influence on the confidence and trust of citizens in their respective states and undermines the countries’ economic development.

The ongoing reforms in many legal areas are often constrained by technical limitations, while training institutions fail to operate in a coordinated manner. The public still does not know enough about the new laws, and this legal uncertainty is a serious impediment to economic development in the region. The heightened potential for conflict hinders regional collaboration.

Objective

Through regional dialogue, progress has been made in aligning the legal systems in the South Caucasus to European standards, and in helping the countries meet the requirements set out in global agendas

Approach

GIZ advises its institutional partners in the three countries of the South Caucasus, focusing on five fields of activity. In doing so, the opportunities for regional collaboration between the separate countries are harnessed.

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

Advice on legislation and strategies: The project supports legislative and strategic initiatives in all three countries, with the relevant ministries acting as the primary partners. The aim of the project is to improve the integration of civil society in participatory processes.

Integrated legal education: In this field of activity, the project supports the application of laws by judicial and administrative bodies. The project develops and implements training measures. It advises members of the judiciary as well as other legal practitioners on the topic of organisational development, and assists the partners in creating specialist literature.

Raising awareness of the law: The project works together with civil society to disseminate information about the legal system via campaigns, so that people are aware of their rights and are able to uphold them accordingly.

Integrating the requirements of the 2030 Agenda into regulatory impact assessments (RIAs): The project supports the introduction of regulatory impact assessments in Georgia, into which the ecological, economic and social dimensions of sustainability are always incorporated. Analyses are conducted as part of the national implementation of sustainable development objectives. The impact of new legislation on older laws is also analysed.

Results

The legal foundations of civil and administrative law as well as the judiciary conform to modern standards in many areas, and are used by the population. The provision of advice on legal reform has been instrumental in ensuring that private ownership today enjoys greater protection, and that freedom of contract remains one of the most important maxims of business activity.

The ‘Transformation Lawyers’ Winter Academy, which was held eight times between 2009 and 2017 in collaboration with the Hertie School of Governance and the Bucerius Law School, brought together over 200 young lawyers. They were able to build on their professional expertise and develop their soft skills. Thanks to the ‘Transformation Lawyers’ regional alumni network, professional exchanges concerning the rule of law now take place between the different countries.