Summary of the program for 2000-2003
In consultation with the partner organisations in the region IDLI and the CSD have designed four specific projects, which support the overall SELDI objectives. They deal with corruption, judicial reform and trade, and the establishment of a distance learning center. Each addresses a specific set of problems, but are logically and substantively linked. The anti–corruption project seeks, through a number of related approaches to raise awareness of the potential for dealing with corruption and then to encourage specific actions including the establishment of new legal and policy norms. The judicial reform project seeks to build regional links between the judges, other court personnel and relevant ministries aimed at contributing to the building of the rule of law in the whole region. The significant contacts established under the project will also provide a forum for greater intra-regional cooperation in the control of corruption. The trade initiative seeks to help build greater opportunities for intra-and inter-regional trade, which will contribute to re-establishing economic stability and security. The trade project will help build transparency in trade and will diminish the opportunities for corruption. The distance learning center will create a“first node” cost-effective training facility for target groups in the SELDI countries for World Bank, IDLI and CSD training programs.
The success of the democratization and the establishment of a functioning region of Southeast Europe will depend on the existence of functioning institutions of pluralistic democracy and market economy in all the countries concerned. The effectiveness of local reform efforts and international technical and financial assistance requires the quality of public service and must be based on the best practices of good governance. SELDI’s activities in promoting these practices focus in two main areas:
Facilitating public-private partnerships in anti-corruption; and
Capacity building for the NGO sector as a factor for civic participation and accountability.
Regional anti-corruption efforts
As corruption is the negation of the Rule of Law and an impediment to efficient law enforcement and effective functioning of public institutions, non-governmental institutions need to find a common platform with the institutions of the state to work to prevent it. Reducing corruption requires not only the relevant institution-building measures but also creating the social preconditions for establishing the Rule of Law. In this context it is of decisive importance to foster a democratic political culture based on trust and respect of government institutions, transparency and openness of the activities of the administration, and an orientation towards stability and predictability. This task has become all the more pressing in the aftermath of the conflict in Kosovo whereby these issues have been effectively regionalized. Therefore, in the political environment of SEE where common formal institutions are yet to emerge, the innovative approach of Coalition 2000 consisting not in joining the stakeholders in formal organizations but rather implementing it as an open and transparent process, is particularly relevant. Not only do corruption pressures have certain cross-country roots in SEE (e.g. international criminal activities, migration, etc) but anti-corruption efforts, especially those aimed at promoting democratic values, could be implemented more efficiently in multilateral co-operation.
On the basis of the history of reforms in the region, it could be summarized that reform efforts will not succeed unless both governments and NGOs participate actively in the design and implementation of a common reform agenda. This is especially valid in areas such as the provision of public services and citizens’ rights. Corruption, therefore, should be a priority area where public-private co-operation needs to be established.
In this context, SELDI’s regional anti-corruption initiatives will focus on coalition building and corruption monitoring. These efforts seek to strengthen the role of civil society organizations in establishing partnerships with public institutions for the implementation of anti-corruption measures on a regional scale. In addition, a network of organizations will be established within SELDI to monitor the level and scope of corruption in the region based on the Coalition 2000 monitoring methodology on a regional scale.
Strengthening of the Judiciary
The judiciary as the third branch of power in a state governed by the Rule of Law – together with the legislative and the executive – is the one contributing to the legal certainty and stability of society. Thus the strengthening of the judiciary is one of the basic conditions for the democratization and economic reconstruction of the countries of SEE. The judicial reform process in SEE should aim to achieve a number of specific objectives:
- To strengthen the independence of the judiciary;
- To provide conditions for a speedier administration of justice;
- To increase the efficiency of the judicial process;
- To increase public confidence in the judiciary;
- To establish a system for raising the professional knowledge and skills of the magistrates and of the court administration;
- To enhance the collaboration between countries of the SEE region in judicial structures and the enforcement of the law.
In order to achieve these objectives, improved harmonized legislation, professional cooperation and organizational changes, including training and career development schemes are needed.
As there are a number of apparent common problems and topics of mutual interests for the countries of SEE, it is desirable to initiate regional cooperation and partnerships based on the ongoing national judicial reform activities. With regard to areas of law of common concern, the following stand out as crucial:
Regional challenges for the civil law, procedural law and commercial law;
Combating serious crime – corruption, trans-border and banking crime, money laundering, etc.
Cooperation among magistrates and judicial institutions is of primary importance for the effective implementation of legislation and the Rule of Law. SELDI seeks to provide regularity in the institutional as well as personal exchanges, important for developing regional mechanisms of cooperation. Professional associations’ involvement is important in raising the level of professional integrity and responsibility and playing a significant role in accelerating the judicial reform activities. Regular meetings and other contacts between national associations of judges, those of public prosecutors, and other magistrates will form the backbone of the cooperation process. The establishment of a SEE Judicial Network will be encouraged among the relevant competent judicial authorities and will be the mechanism for exchange of experience as well as a forum for discussion of practical and legal problems, possible legislative changes and joint/coordinated measures.
The project will IDLI’s training capacity and the experience of the Judicial Reform Initiative for Bulgaria to introduce a regional training facility aimed at raising the professional knowledge and skills of the magistrates and court administrators. Its overall objective is to contribute to the development of accountable, legislative branches and independent judiciaries. Notably, the project will also seek to enhance the collaboration between countries of the SEE region in judicial structures.
WTO and Trade Development in the Region
Increased international trade, conducted in conformity with internationally agreed rules, will greatly contribute to the economic growth and enhanced stability of the region. This is also recognized by the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, which includes as one of its objectives the creation of vibrant market economies, markets open to greatly expanded foreign trade, effective and transparent customs and commercial/regulatory regimes, fostering economic cooperation in the region and the rest of the world. Against this background, SELDI’s trade initiatives will concentrate on the multilateral (global) system of trade rules embodied by the World Trade Organization (WTO). All SEE countries are either Members of the World Trade Organization or are in the process of accession. SEE countries also engage in regional trade. The trade initiative will therefore also focus on issues of regional integration. The trade initiative would:
Create enhanced awareness and understanding of the WTO Agreements, of trade policy matters, the functioning of WTO and of relevant regional trade integration agreements;
Identify the main issues of law and policy in the on-going global trade liberalization;
List the main implications of the WTO Agreements domestically which may require amendment of legislation and policies to ensure consistency with WTO rules;
Understand the WTO Dispute Settlement procedures and determine their role in the domestic context for the enforcement of the trade rules;
Describe the evolving process of regional economic integration and their relationship to multilateral trade;
Encourage creation of (a) trade law center(s) in the region, which would in essence be dedicated to the needs of the region regarding regional and international trade; Provide training programs and undertake research; (b) endeavor to create a forum for intra-regional academic cooperation; (c) attract international expertise; (d) establish an infrastructure, a specialized library and documentation center
Through training seminars, setting up of advisory services and training of trainers, the project will create enhanced awareness and understanding of the rules of international trade, particularly WTOAgreements and of relevant regional trade integration agreements. The project will explore the possibilities of creating trade law center(s) in the region as a means of ensuring such accessibility and diffusion of knowledge. The project will identify the actually applied trade regimes (border and non-border measures) among the countries of the region and will make such information readily available for the region’s economic operators. As suggested during the conference discussions, strengthening the negotiating capacity of SELDI countries could also be a complementary target for the trade component of the Initiative.
Distance Learning Center
The Distance Learning Center will be part of a Global Distance Learning Network (GDLN) currently developed by the World Bank. In this way, the proposed DLC will have instant access to a global knowledge base. It will facilitate the simultaneous provision of courses, seminars, and discussions for a variety of global participants, linked by interactive video, electronic classrooms, satellite communications, and Internet facility. The DL Center will create a “first node” cost-effective training facility for target groups in the SELDI countries for World Bank, IDLI and CSD training programs, and will create an indigenous capacity to identify and access knowledge needed to improve legal development policies in Southeast Europe.