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Promoting Justice Reforms in Central Asia: The European Union’s Rule of Law Initiative as Part of a Comprehensive Democratization Strategy?

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Vera Axyonova1
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This article examines the European Union’s (eu’s) rule of law promotion in post-Soviet Central Asia. More specifically, it focuses on the eu’s Rule of Law Initiative, which aims to support legal sector modernization and judicial reforms in the region. Drawing on the “democratic rule of law” (droL) model developed by Magen and Morlino, the article analyzes whether the Rule of Law Initiative can contribute to democratization processes in Central Asia. Based on content analysis of eu documents and semi-structured expert interviews with European and Central Asian stakeholders, the study reveals the eu’s very limited ability to trigger genuine reform. The main reasons are its lack of leverage in the region, limited financial resources, and reliance on the joint ownership approach in the context of authoritarian states.

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