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Germany's contribution

Strengthening the role of law


Mobile court session in rural Timor-Leste

One important area of Germany’s work is the promotion of independent and incorruptible judiciaries, including the development of codes of ethical conduct for judges and officials working in the justice system. German development policy also strives to ensure that all citizens, particularly members of the disadvantaged and marginalised sections of society, have access to the law.

Germany works with its developing partner countries to devise demand-oriented reform programmes that are tailored to each country's needs. The implementation strategies are planned on a long-term basis to reflect the complex process of political and social change required when a legal system is installed or restructured. Reform of legal and justice systems almost always entails modifications to the way power is exercised in a country.

The BMZ also plays an active role at the multinational level, working through international organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank to stimulate implementation of global action and knowledge-sharing on strategies to promote rule of law.

In its work to promote rule of law, Germany is able to draw on its own past experience and on the vast knowledge it has amassed through its extensive support for the reform processes in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Central Asia.

Special challenges

Promoting rule of law is particularly difficult in countries that have recently seen war or other violent conflict. Often, people’s faith in the state’s ability to ensure security and order is shaken to the core.

If peace and reconciliation processes are to be successful, justice must first be re-established. Completely new institutions to ensure rule of law need to be built, past crimes investigated and the victims compensated.

Countries in which norms based on, for example, customs, ethical tradition or religion exist alongside the official legal system also call for a sensitive approach. In some cases, these socially established norms are incompatible with government legislation. It is then necessary to find ways to recognise those norms and to incorporate, for instance, traditional approaches to conflict solution into the official laws. However, where the traditional rules violate basic rights or constitutions (due to discrimination, for example), change process need to be triggered to guarantee the validity of government-issued legislation.

More information can be found in the following sections:


BMZ glossary

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