When the Soviet Union collapsed, few of the newly independent states were ready to be fully democratic countries responsive and accountable to their citizens. Armenia and Georgia were among those nations lacking the administrative systems of laws that ensured transparency and the means for public participation.
AMEX International, Inc. (AMEX) began to help the governments of Armenia and Georgia in 1997 under a USAID democracy and governance indefinite quantity contract. The firm helped local officials to prepare training materials and, when appropriate, to provide training on legislative and legal issues. AMEX’s assistance included commenting on drafts and providing guidance on using more transparent processes such as public review and comments and public hearings. As part of the civil code implementation, AMEX was involved in training legal professionals and making the code more accessible to the public through newspaper and magazine articles, television broadcasts, and information leaflets detailing the impact of the codes on the average citizen.
In Armenia, AMEX worked on regulatory and commercial law and emphasized the importance of a transparent administrative code, the implementation of which would include agency reorganization and training, publication of explanatory materials, and public education. One of the primary Armenian authors of the Civil Code remarked in the local press that “this could not have been achieved without the technical and material assistance provided by USAID [through AMEX].”
AMEX arranged for Georgian experts to visit U.S. courts to observe both civil and common law systems. The study tour participants saw the case management systems that govern civil, criminal, and family proceedings at work. They were introduced to concepts of state and federal court administration and learned how self-management by the judiciary supports judicial independence. They were also introduced to cutting-edge court technology that could be useful in the modernization of their courts.
These projects included helping implement a strategy to reform the basic structures of the legal systems—such as the new constitution, civil codes, and court administration—while also instigating a consultative process between state and civil society actors.