Judiciary Reform in state-building: Searching for New Legitimacy

Nana Mjavanadze, December 2009


  • State
  • judiciary reform
  • legitimacy
  • democratization
  • international aid
  • Armenia
  • Georgia
  • Ukraine


This article has been written for the conference « post-crisis State transformation, rethinking the foundations of the State » which took place in Linköping 1-5 May 2009.

According to the principle of checks and balances between the different branches of State power, construction of a democratic State implies the existence of an independent competent and impartial judiciary. Strong judicial institutions constitute the cornerstone for the creation of a predictable legal environment which guarantees the practical and impartial implementation of economic, social and political rights.

The Justice Sector Reform has emerged as a key concern in the developing States bringing international donors to inject huge sums into the construction of the western model of a democratic State in developing countries. The creation of an efficient and independent judiciary constitutes one of the cornerstones of the rule of law, a “banner” very commonly used notwithstanding its vague definition.

Notwithstanding the growing focus on the enhancement of the rule of law, there is no or very little guidance on the efficient approach to the implementation of the rule of law reform. After making a brief overview of the international perception of judicial reforms (within the rule of law) and the main international and national actors who play an important role in this process, we shall make a study of the international standards of the judicial reform to finally confine our arguments to three main characteristics of a democratic judiciary: independence, competence and impartiality, based on the examples of three post-soviet countries: Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine. Our choice was directed by the interesting characteristics presented by the judiciary systems of these countries, which have undergone different waves of judicial reforms during the last 10-15 years but are still searching for a new legitimacy.

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The full article can be found in the publication “Rethinking these Foundations of the State” (forthcoming 2010)