IRZ transfers juridical know-how...

For more than 25 years the IRZ has (as a non-profit organization) assisted states in developing rule-of-law structures and implementing functioning market economy structures. In doing so, it constantly develops its strategies and concepts further and adapts them to other states and regions. The IRZ works both by order of and with funding from the Federal Ministry of Justice and through project-related funds by the Federal Foreign Office, amongst others. Additionally, the IRZ Foundation implements EU projects which are initiated and funded by the European Commission within the framework of its neighbouring and accession policy.

...into effective bilateral and multilateral projects...

Experts of the IRZ get involved wherever there is a demand for support in establishing constitutional structures based on the rule of law and on democratic principles. In addition they assist states in establishing the basis for private economic activities safeguarded by a functioning civil law system and in approximating the national law to the European Union Law. In our bilateral and multilateral projects we identify the potentials of the local institutions and design consultation concepts tailored to the specific needs of the respective countries.

...with impressive results.

The work of the IRZ is worthwhile in view of the great significance of a rule-of-law oriented international cooperation. The results of our work are impressive.

Get a comprehensive idea of the varied projects of the IRZ on these pages.

Establishment of IRZ

The German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ) was established as a registered association in May 1992 on the initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Justice . The establishment was preceded by various inquiries of the transition countries of Central, Eastern and partly also South Eastern Europe asking the Federal Ministry of Justice for assistance in the upcoming reforms.

Almost all transformation states were striving for a rule-of-law democracy, needed to set up a new constitution and in some parts had to build an entirely new state governed by the rule of law on this basis. Since Germany had a model function for many of the above-mentioned states, all the more so as it had made very specific experiences with the unification of the law with the former GDR, German legislative consultation was the first area which was in especially great demand.

What is more, further training events were commenced back then for all legal professions – for judges, public prosecutors, lawyers and notaries. Since then, the IRZ has been supporting its partner countries in the establishment of an independent and well-functioning judicial apparatus, including procedural law foundations, as well as in the harmonisation of their national legal system with European Union law.

Financing methods

Funding from the Federal Government

Since its foundation in 1992, IRZ has been supported and institutionally financed by the Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ). By resolution of the German Bundestag, IRZ assists with legal and judicial reforms in the partner states on behalf of the Federal Government and in particular the BMJ. Regional priorities are defined in direct consultation with the BMJ and IRZ committees. In these cases, IRZ intensifies its work in certain partner states, e.g. in the Western Balkans or the partner states of the Middle East and Africa.

In many cases, cooperation agreements are also concluded between the BMJ and the ministries of justice of the partner states on specific specialist topics. The BMJ in turn commissions IRZ, which has specialised in this intensive professional advisory work for many years, to implement the associated work plans.

IRZ undertakes advisory processes, in some cases over many years, on specific legislative reform projects, with which either new draft legislation is developed or existing laws significantly reformed. This is the case, for example, when an independent administrative court jurisdiction is to be created together with the necessary code, constitutional complaints will be introduced, or laws are to be drafted in one of the many areas of law.

IRZ accompanies these reform projects by providing advice on the restructuring and reorganisation of judicial institutions in order to assist with practical implementation of the reformed law. In addition, there are numerous events geared at implementation of the reform projects and at delivering further training of legal practitioners from the partner states. Because of their importance in practice, these events play a major role in ensuring that reformed law is also applied in a manner that is consistent with the tenets of the rule of law. In this context, the direct and very intensive exchange of professional experience between the professionals themselves, as well as the various internship programmes supported and promoted by the chambers and associations of the legal professions and other organisations, deserve special mention. In addition, IRZ tries to reach and motivate law students and young legal professionals by offering study programmes, summer schools and other services.

Besides institutional funding, IRZ can also apply for and receive funding from the Federal Foreign Office; this enables considerable intensification of IRZ activities over a particular period of time in certain priority and crisis regions.

In 2019, IRZ received about €6.4 million in institutional subsidies from the BMJ and about €3 million in funding from the Federal Foreign Office.

Projects funded by the European Union

IRZ also carries out projects on legal and judicial reform, which are tendered by the EU under various funding programmes. These projects are thematically similar to those applied for under federal subsidies. However, the project volumes are usually larger, and funds are allocated by means of calls for proposals. The following financing instruments are of particular relevance to IRZ:

  • IPA II (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance): for potential EU accession candidate countries, especially states in the Western Balkans
  • ENI (European Neighbourhood Instrument): to promote democracy and human rights in the Eastern Partnership and the Mediterranean regions
  • DCI (Development Cooperation Instrument): of particular relevance with regard to Central Asia

In this context, IRZ proceeds according to the following five basic principles:

  • IRZ exclusively undertakes EU projects in its partner states.
  • IRZ exploits synergies between bilateral activities and EU-funded projects in a partner state.
  • IRZ avoids double consulting.
  • IRZ advises its partner institutions in a spirit of equal partnership.
  • IRZ uses its resources efficiently to achieve the best possible results for its partners.

EU Twinning

The European Union created the Twinning funding instrument in the late 1990s in order to promote partnerships between authorities of the EU Member States and potential EU accession candidates. In this way, the EU has been supporting the development of public structures in line with European values and standards for more than 20 years. As the name Twinning implies, the projects adhere to a partnership approach. Together with employees from the relevant authorities of the EU Member States, the countries are supported and advised in adopting the EU acquis communautaire.

The Resident Twinning Adviser (RTA), a person from public administration in an EU Member State with professional experience in the relevant sector and excellent intercultural competence, manages the project on site, usually for two years, and serves as the primary contact for the authority receiving advice. The RTA is supported and advised by a Project Leader (PL) from the home authority. This function is performed by an official with considerable experience in the relevant legal area. He or she bears overall responsibility for the project.

The RTA(s) and PL(s) work closely with the persons responsible for the respective project components, both in the application phase and during implementation of the projects. Numerous officials from public administrations in EU Member States with specific and relevant knowledge also support the projects as short-term experts.

IRZ has represented the BMJ in the application for and implementation of EU Twinning Projects (“mandated body“) in the judicial field since 1998 and has participated in some 80 projects during this period. In recent years, numerous projects have also been successfully carried out in consortia with new EU Member States such as Croatia and Latvia. Countries that IRZ previously supported in Twinning Projects during their accession to the EU have therefore become partners. Not only do they now contribute regional expertise, they can also draw on similar legal traditions and hence have a special understanding of the countries‘ specific challenges in terms of alignment with EU law. In 2019, IRZ was able to implement a total of seven EU Twinning Projects in Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine. These projects are presented in greater detail in the country reports.


The European Commission uses the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX) for short-term measures which, similar to Twinning Projects, are used for direct communication between authorities. Workshops and study visits to EU Member States, as well as expert missions to the countries concerned, allow public administrators to exchange experiences on specific topics. Requests can be made directly by the individual states that belong to the EU programmes ENI and ENPI. IRZ receives requests concerning the judicial field from the National Contact Point (NCP) for Twinning and TAIEX based in the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. IRZ implements these requests in cooperation with experts from the judicial field and German judicial institutions. In this regard, IRZ was able to organise a visit to Germany by a delegation from the Turkish Ministry of Justice and the participation of a German judge in a workshop in Bosnia and Herzegovina during 2019.

EU Grant

Similar to twinning, the calls for proposals for EU grants, which usually last several years, are directed only at a limited number of applicants, to which IRZ belongs as a “mandated body“ of the BMJ. Usually Grants are entirely financed by the EU with the exception of in-house (human) resources costs, which need to be contributed by the implementing organisation. Thus, the use of a relatively small amount of own resources makes it possible to implement a budget of several million euros. Bilateral activities can be reduced commensurately whenever IRZ implements projects of this kind currently for instance in Albania in the form of the EURALIUS V project (see Albania country report) – which eases the burden on the budget for federal subsidies.

Sometimes grants are also directed at EU states, for example within the framework of a Justice Programme 2014 to 2020, which the EU has set up with a view to improving networks and the exchange of experience between EU states, for example in the implementation of EU directives. For instance, IRZ has carried out similar programmes with Bulgaria and Romania in the past. Overall, increasing numbers of EU calls for proposals are being organised as grants.

EU Technical Assistance

IRZ also remains active in EU Technical Assistance Projects. The relevant calls for proposals are aimed at a much larger group of applicants. This market is therefore highly competitive, with project volumes recently being lower than in the past, mainly due to the tendency of the EU, as outlined above, to tender sector-wide reform projects as grants.

Nevertheless, this area of activity represents an important opportunity for IRZ. As a highly specialised institution with many years of experience in implementing similar profit-oriented projects in the field of judicial reform, IRZ is a much-coveted cooperation partner. The Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries have remained the regional priority of ongoing projects and interesting project tenders in recent times. However, there are growing numbers of calls for proposals for judicial programmes in the countries of North Africa. These projects are being brought into focus more and more due to IRZ‘s now well-established bilateral activities in the region.

The EU-funded projects in which IRZ is currently involved are presented in the country reports.