Legal Education in Azerbaijan: Past, Present and Future Challenges

  • Charles Robert Davidson
  • Nancy Sharp Nti Asare
Part of the Euro-Asian Studies book series (EAS)

Abstract

A primary method for creating and strengthening the rule of law and improving justice is to increase professionalism in the legal community. As the previous chapter suggested, one of the ways this may be achieved is by instituting structural reform of the legal education system. Azerbaijan has experienced a series of sweeping changes in its infrastructure and legislation in the past decade; nonetheless, entrenched attitudes and practices in legal education continue to hinder the development of an effective law-based system. This article looks at the history of legal education, current reform efforts and its future prospects.

Keywords

Europe Income Social Stratification Sine Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    The law and development movement can be traced back to the 1960s, when a unique blend of optimism, a deep belief in social change, Cold War politics and other factors coalesced to create a loose movement of legal scholars and aid workers committed to promoting legal and judicial reform in the developing world. On the rise and demise of the movement, see J. H. Merryman, ‘Comparative Law and Social Change: On the Origins, Style, Decline and Revival of the Law and Development Movement’, American Journal of Comparative Law, 25 (1977), p. 457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Some scholars challenge the prevalent notion that the movement was a failure. In an excellent law review article, Maxwell Chibundu speaks of the movement’s revival. See M. O. Chibundu, ‘Law in Development: On Tapping, Gourding, and Serving Palm Wine’, Case Western Law Journal of International Law, 29 (1997), p. 167.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    See for example, J. H. Merryman, ‘Law and Development Memoirs I: the Chile Law Program’, American Journal of Comparative Law, 48 (2000), p. 481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    See for example, T. Carothers, Aiding Democracy Abroad: the Learning Curve (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999), pp. 98–113. With specific reference to American democracy promotion efforts, Carothers makes many of the same critiques that were made of the earlier law and development movement. For instance, he suggests that democracy promotion endeavours are far too culturally bound to American models (whose exportability and ultimate desirability have largely escaped rigorous scrutiny) and that there is an inordinate ‘pseudoscientific’ formalistic focus on political change that ignores the substantive aspects of change.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See for instance, J. M. Picker and S. Picker, Jr., ‘Educating Russia’s Future Lawyers … Any Role for the United States?’, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 33 (2000), p. 19: ‘A well-developed legal system based on the rule of law underlies and supports every post-modern, sophisticated, fully developed state in the world.’ Whether law is the sine qua non of this development and sophistication, however, remains to be empirically demonstrated. For an excellent critique of the articles of faith of the law reform movement,Google Scholar
  6. see F. Upham, Mythmaking in the Rule of Law Orthodoxy, Working Paper 30 (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    See J. A. Couso, Book Review of Lawrence M. Friedman and Rogelio Perez-Perdomo, eds, Legal Culture in the Age of Globalization: Latin America and Latin Europe (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2003), in Law and Politics Book Review, 14 (2004).Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    I. Grazin, ‘On Essential Traits of Post-Communist Revolution in Legal Education’, available at http://www.aals.org. According to Grazin, the challenge of the post-Soviet state is not to ‘move towards a law-governed state but away from it!’ See also J. Burman, ‘The Role of Clinical Legal Education in Developing the Rule of Law in Russia’, Wyoming Law Review, 2 (2002), pp. 89, 97. Burman notes that law as a tool of social control and repression has extensive historical (i.e. pre-Soviet) antecedents in Russian history.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    See C. Osakwe, Book Review of W. Butler, Soviet Law (London: Butterworth, 1983) in Tulane Law Review, 59 (1985), p. 858.Google Scholar
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    See for instance, P. Krug’s review of P. H. Solomon’s Soviet Criminal Justice under Stalin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) in Law and History Review, 18 (2000), p. 673. In the 1930s, Soviet leaders sought to create a more professionalized core of legal officials by requiring greater professional development — previous reliance on untrained, poorly educated administrators had yielded poor results — and by explicitly linking their career advancement to quantifiable indices of performance.Google Scholar
  11. 27.
    United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Azerbaijan Human Development Report (2000), p. 14. This report, as well as all other UNDP–Azerbaijan Human Development Reports, is available at http://www.un-az.org/undp/HDR2000_en.pdf.Google Scholar
  12. 29.
    See World Bank, Project Information Document No. PID11492, Azerbaijan–Education Sector Development Project (Washington, DC: World Bank Group, 2003), p. 1.Google Scholar
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    See for instance, C. P. M. Waters, Counsel in the Caucasus: Professionalization and Law in Georgia (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2004), p. 75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 37.
    UNDP, Azerbaijan National Human Development Report (2003), Chapter 1.Google Scholar
  15. 38.
    J. S. Catterall and R. McGhee, Jr., The Emergence of Private Postsecondary Education in the Former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, Newsletter on International Higher Education, Center for International Higher Education, Boston College (1996). Available at http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/soe/cihe/newsletter/News05/text2.html. There are approximately twenty-three state higher educational institutions.Google Scholar
  16. 41.
    UNDP, Azerbaijan Human Development Report (2003), chapter 1, section 1.2.Google Scholar
  17. 42.
    UNDP, Azerbaijan Human Development Report (1999), p. 43.Google Scholar
  18. 46.
    See World Bank, Project Information Document (March 2003), p. 2. Available at http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects. A World Bank analysis of higher education provides some insight into the level of preparation of students beginning undergraduate studies. According to the World Bank report, only 800 of the nearly 80 000 candidates who recently took the annual Student University Entrance Examinations scored the maximum 700 points, while more than half of all test takers scored below the failing mark (300 points) and another third were unable to achieve a score of 100 points. Since the pool of candidates for law study is quite small based on examination scores, there is concern that students buy admission to law programmes.Google Scholar
  19. 56.
    T. Klumas, ‘Legal Education in the New Europe and the USA: Shall the Twain Ever Meet?’, The German Law Journal, 5 (2004), p. 2. Regarding the challenges posed by traditional faculty, it has been stated that ‘[a]gainst expectations, the old, unqualified, and xenophobic professors did not die out. They reproduced themselves through inbreeding, selecting future teachers from among their students according to criteria of loyalty and lack of intellectual challenge to the current incompetent professorate.’Google Scholar
  20. See A. Tucker, ‘Reproducing Incompetence: the Constitution of Czech Higher Education’, East European Constitutional Review, 9 (2000), p. 94.Google Scholar
  21. 57.
    UNDP, Project Information Document (1998). Approximately 72 per cent of all school buildings in Azerbaijan were not originally intended for educational use and nearly half of all buildings are in need of ‘substantial renovation’. Moreover, according to UNDP, there is considerable reluctance to modernize established construction norms: all building plans require the approval of the State Construction and Architectural Commission (SCAC). Apparently, the building norms can only be modified with presidential approval or decree. In February 2003, the President allocated 34 billion manat for the construction of new schools, rehabilitation of existing buildings, and the addition of new classrooms to old buildings.Google Scholar

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© Charles Charles Davidson and Nancy Sharp Nti Asare 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Robert Davidson
  • Nancy Sharp Nti Asare

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