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 :
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:
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.
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.