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: Ministries of Justice of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
Overall term: 2018 to 2020

Context

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are gearing their legal reforms to European standards. In this process, the three South Caucasus states are as yet making minimal use of opportunities for regional exchange to benefit from one another. Progress has been slow in the legal development and institutional expansion of the judicial institutions, including universities and centres of continuing professional development. The states involved are often unaware of innovations made by their neighbouring countries. Cross-border sharing of experience among legal experts and legal studies networks are virtually non-existent. In some cases, European standards and the contents of the EU acquis are known, but are interpreted and applied differently in each of the three South Caucasus states. Communication of details of the reforms, the legal positions and legal remedy instruments to the population has not been successful on a nationwide basis. 

Objective

Progress has been made in aligning the region’s legal systems to European standards in a cross-border dialogue.

Approach

Enhanced regional sharing of details of reforms and innovative approaches in the fields of legislation, strategy development, continuing professional development and legal awareness provides support in joint drafting and discussion of reform decisions. Aspects discussed and recommended regionally often carry more weight at national level. Conversely, good work at the national level is also a prerequisite for successful communication. Incorporating the requirements of the 2030 Agenda guarantees the sustainability of the reforms.
In this way, the project makes an overall contribution to continuing the legal and judicial reforms in the three countries.

The focus on the rule of law also supports consideration of cross-cutting issues. The application of European anti-discrimination rules, in particular in the areas of dialogue on the rule of law and advice on strategy and legislation, ensure the promotion of gender awareness. Equal rights are an essential standard for the rule of law. Implementation of the participatory approach in the legislative process and promotion of transparency in administrative and judicial processes have an impact on the protection of fundamental rights, and help prevent corruption and improve the climate for investments. The dialogue on the rule of law prioritises potential for regional cooperation. That creates an opportunity to harness the specialist cooperation in legal and judicial reforms to gradually reduce resentment between the countries, and thus make a long-term contribution to peace and security in the region.

The project focuses on five fields of activity. It supports regional dialogue on rule of law, advice on legislation and strategies, integrated legal education, raising awareness of the law, and the 2030 Agenda requirements for regulatory impact assessments.

Results

The predecessor project successfully contributed to continuing professionalisation of administrative jurisdiction and alignment of the legal systems to EU standards in all three South Caucasus states. The advisory approach has borne fruit in constitutional law and the law of civil procedure, thus improving opportunities to assert rights before a court. Journalistic platforms, social media and open government concepts developed with state and non-state partner institutions have improved legal awareness in all three countries. In Georgia, initial regulatory impact assessments have been adapted to the requirements of the 2030 Agenda.