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EU Rule of Law Initiative for Central Asia

The Rule of Law Initiative is the overarching regional framework for enhanced cooperation to support reform and good governance in judicial systems. It reflects a sustained EU-Central Asia policy dialogue and, similar to the engagement of the EU and its Member States in other sectors, is implemented through both multilateral and bilateral programmes.

It helps the countries of Central Asia approximate their national judicial models, legislation and practices with international (primarily European) standards.

France and Germany are coordinating the initiative, supported by the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission (EC) and the other Member States.

The Initiative is a key element of the 2007 ‘EU-Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership’ which identified three ‘pillars’ for enhanced cooperation: ‘Rule of Law’, ‘Education’ and ‘Environment’. For more information about this click here.

The Rule of Law Initiative was launched in 2008 with the aim to support legal reforms (especially constitutional, criminal and administrative law and legal training) and the sharing of experience on issues such as how to reform the capacity of the judiciary or draw up effective legislation on priority issues of reform. It offers a balanced approach, which takes into account national situations and needs.

It focuses on constitutional, criminal and administrative law and legal training although in the second Ministerial Conference in 2010, it was agreed to broaden the work to cover additional areas such as access to law, the Habeas Corpus principle, commercial jurisdiction and law, and transposition of international norms and their effective application in the national context. At a Third Ministerial Conference in 2012 special emphasis was put on judicial capacity building, including training activities for legal professionals. Also, a permanent “Working Party on Judicial Capacity” was established.

The Rule of Law Initiative has two main instruments:

  • The Rule of Law Platform From the establishment of the Rule of Law Initiative in 2008 a number of actions were undertaken in the rule of law sectors in Central Asia and in the EU to bring together stakeholders and to discuss possible joint actions to be taken. However, at a certain stage it was decided this dialogue needed to become more structured and organised and thus in 2011 the “Rule of Law Platform” project was launched.  This organises regular meetings at ministerial, regional and national level to review policy developments related to legal reform, including training for the legal profession; and other specific technical assistance projects undertaken both by the EU and EU Member States (For more information please click here).
  • Long term projects. These are designed to provide assistance for reforms of the judicial systems and of the legal profession, including training, reform of professional legal education, and exchanges between practitioners in the region, as well as advisory services and regional exchanges in the field of legislation.

EU human rights political dialogues

The EU Strategy for Central Asia recognises that human rights, rule of law, good governance and democratisation underpin the long-term political stability and economic development of the region and the Strategy requires the EU to engage in human rights dialogues with all five Central Asian states. The dialogues are now an instrument of the EU’s external policy and are designed to:

  • discuss questions of mutual interest and enhance cooperation on human rights, inter alia in multilateral arena such as the United Nations and the OSCE;
  • raise the concerns felt by the EU on human rights in the countries concerned, gather information and launch initiatives to improve the relevant human rights situation.

Human rights dialogues can lead to the development of programmes and projects in any of the five countries concerned so that countries can meet their international human rights obligations. (For more information pleasel click here)

Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe is working together with Supreme and Constitutional courts of the five countries, Ministries of Justice and other public institutions to help develop legislation and to bring legal practice up to international standards, in conformity with the countries’ international obligations.