A Legal Research Guide to Armenia
By Sergey Arakelyan and Anna Margaryan
Published March 2006
Sergey Arakelyan is the Scientific Secretary of the Yerevan State University, from Yerevan (Armenia). He is a member of the Bar Association of the Republic of Armenia. He had been the Director of the Yerevan State University, Faculty of Law Library (1998-2004) and from 1997 up to now a Lecturer at the Department of Criminal Law at the Yerevan State University, Faculty of Law. He holds a JD (1996) from the Yerevan State University, Faculty of Law, and a PhD (1999) from the Scientific-Research Institute of the Prosecutors Office of the Russian Federation (Moscow, Russia).
Anna Margaryan (alternately email@example.com) is the Director of the Law Library of the Yerevan State University, Faculty of Law Library. Since 1999 she has been a Lecturer and the Chair of Criminal Law and Criminology at the Yerevan State University, Faculty of Law. Since 2005 she has been a Lecturer at the Scientific-Educational Center of the Prosecutors Office of the Republic of Armenia and an Expert for the project called “Alternative Sanctions in Armenia”. Anna holds a JD from the Yerevan State University, Faculty of Law (1998), and a PhD (2003) from the same University. She had been awarded a 2004 Scholarship at AUA Washington College of Law (U.S.), and a 2002 Scholarship at HEUNI (The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations).
Table of Contents
1.2. Types of Legislation
1.3. The Court System
2.1. Printed Sources
- Presidential Information
- Parliamentary Information
- Government Information
- Local Authorities Information
- Legal Education
- Useful Links
8.2. Other Bodies of State Governance
8.3. Other Links
1. The Legal System of the Republic of Armenia
1.1. Background Information
The Republic of Armenia is a sovereign, democratic state, based on social justice and the rule of law.
In the Republic of Armenia, power lies with the people. The people exercise their power through free elections and referenda, as well as through state and local self-governing bodies and public officials as provided by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. The usurpation of power by any organization or individual constitutes a crime.
The state guarantees the protection of human rights and freedoms based on the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Armenia, in accordance with the principles and norms of international law.
State power is exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Armenia based on the principle of the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. State bodies and public officials may execute only such acts as authorized by legislation.
1.2. Types of Legislation
The legislation system includes the following:
· Constitution of the Republic of Armenia (English and Russian translations are available);
· Constitutional laws;
· resolutions of the National Assembly (the Parliament) and Government;
· decrees of the President;
· acts of other governmental institutions and local municipal authorities.
Substantive branches of the Law are codified in codes:
· Code of Administrative Violations of Law;
· Civil Code (English and Russian translations are available);
· Code of Civil Procedure (Russian translation is available);
· Criminal Code (Russian translation is available);
· Code of Criminal Procedure (Russian translation is available);
· Customs Code (Russian translation is available);
· Family Code (Russian translation is available);
· Labour Code (Russian translation is available);
· Land Code (Russian translation is available);
· Penal Code;
· Water Code (Russian translation is available).
The supremacy of the law is guaranteed in the Republic of Armenia.
The Constitution of the Republic has supreme juridical force, and its norms are applicable directly. Laws found to contradict the Constitution as well as other juridical acts found to contradict the Constitution and the law shall have no legal force.
Laws shall take effect only after official publication. Unpublished juridical acts pertaining to human rights, freedoms, and duties shall have no juridical force. International treaties that have been ratified are a constituent part of the legal system of the Republic. If norms are provided in these treaties other than those provided by laws of the Republic, then the norms provided in the treaty shall prevail.
International treaties that contradict the Constitution may be ratified after making a corresponding amendment to the Constitution.
1.3. The Court System
In the Republic of Armenia justice shall be administered solely by the courts in accordance with the Constitution and the laws. In cases prescribed by law, trials are held with the participation of a jury.
The Courts of general jurisdiction in the Republic of Armenia shall be the courts of first instance, the review courts and the court of appeals.
In the Republic of Armenia, there shall also be economic, military and other courts as may be provided by law.
The establishment of extraordinary courts is prohibited.
The Constitutional Court shall be composed of nine members, five of whom shall be appointed by the National Assembly and four by the President of the Republic.
The Constitutional Court, in accordance with the law:
1) shall decide on whether the laws, the resolutions of the National Assembly, the orders and decrees of the President of the Republic and the resolutions of Government are in conformity with the Constitution;
2) shall decide, prior to the ratification of an international treaty, whether the obligations assumed therein are in conformity with the Constitution;
3) shall rule on disputes concerning referenda and the results of presidential and parliamentary elections;
4) shall ascertain the existence of insurmountable obstacles facing a presidential candidate or the elimination of such obstacles;
5) shall determine whether there are grounds for the removal of the President of the Republic;
6) shall determine whether the President of the Republic is incapable of continuing to perform his or her functions;
7) shall determine whether there are grounds for the removal of a member of the Constitutional Court, his or her arrest or initiation of administrative or criminal proceedings through the judicial process;
8) shall decide on the suspension or prohibition of a political party in cases prescribed by law.
Judges and members of the Constitutional Court are appointed for life. A judge may hold office until the age of 65, while a member of the Constitutional Court may do so until the age of 70. They may be removed from office only in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.
When administering justice, judges and members of the Constitutional Court shall be independent and may only be subject to the law.
The guarantees for the exercise of their duties and the grounds and procedures of the legal responsibility applicable to judges and members of the Constitutional Court shall be prescribed by law.
2. Sources of Law
2.1. Printed Sources
Legal acts of Armenia are officially published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Armenia, which is issued twice a month by the Publishing House of the Government (only Armenian version is available). The Gazette doesn't have an Internet address. Requests could be sent to the above email.
The Publishing House of the Government publishes Armenian legal documents and includes basic laws of the Republic of Armenia, decrees of the President, decisions of the National Assembly, and decisions of the Government and Prime Minister, and decisions of the Constitutional Court.
2.2. Free Internet Sources
A great amount of Armenian legal acts and other legal resources in English can be retrieved from the databases of:
- the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia – Legislation ;
- the Government of the Republic of Armenia – Information Center ;
- the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia – Laws and other legal resources .
When searching for the translations of various legal acts of the Republic of Armenia, it is useful to open the English internet site of the relevant Ministry of the Republic of Armenia and choose the link called “Laws”, “Legislation” or “Legal Acts”, etc., where it is possible to find a list of the main legal acts.
3. Presidential Information
The President of the Republic of Armenia shall uphold the Constitution, and ensure the normal functioning of the legislative, executive and judicial authorities. The President of the Republic shall be the guarantor of the independence, territorial integrity and security of' the Republic.
The President of the Republic shall be elected by the citizens of the Republic of Armenia for a five year term of office.
Every person having attained the age of thirty five, having been a citizen of the Republic of Armenia for the preceding ten years, having permanently resided in the Republic for the preceding ten years, and having the right to vote is eligible for the Presidency.
The same person may not be elected for the post of the President of the Republic for more than two consecutive terms.
4. Parliamentary Information
Legislative power in the Republic of Armenia: shall be vested in the National Assembly.
Under cases provided by the Constitution, as well as for purposes of organizing its own activities, the National Assembly shall adopt resolutions which shall be signed and published by its President.
The powers of the National Assembly are determined by the Constitution. The National Assembly shall operate in accordance with its rules of procedure. The National Assembly shall have one hundred and thirty one deputies.
The authority of the National Assembly shall expire in June of the fourth year following its election, on the opening day of the first session of the newly elected National Assembly, on which day the newly elected National Assembly shall assume its powers.
The National Assembly may be dissolved in accordance with the Constitution.
A newly elected National Assembly may not be dissolved during a one year period following its election.
Upon the recommendation of the President of the Republic, the National Assembly:
1) may declare an amnesty;
2) shall ratify or revoke the international treaties signed by the Republic of Armenia. The range of international agreements which are subject to ratification by the National Assembly shall be prescribed by law;
3) may declare war.
5. Government Information
Executive power in the Republic of Armenia shall be vested in the Government of the Republic of Armenia.
The Government shall be composed of the Prime Minister and the Ministers. The powers of the Government shall be determined by the Constitution and laws.
The organization and rules of operation of the Government shall be determined by a decree of the President of the Republic, upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
6. Local Authorities Information
The administrative territorial units of the Republic of Armenia shall be the provinces and districts. Provinces shall include urban and rural districts.
Districts shall have local self-government. To manage the property of the district and to solve problems of local significance, self governing local bodies shall be elected for a period of three years: a Council of Elders, composed of five to fifteen members, and a District Administrator: a City Mayor or Village Mayor. The District Administrator shall organize his or her staff.
The District Council of Elders, upon the recommendation of the District Administrator, shall approve the district budget, oversee the implementation of the budget, and determine local taxes and fees as prescribed by law.
The provinces shall be governed by the state Government. The Government shall appoint and remove the Governors of the provinces, who shall implement the Government's regional policy and coordinate the regional activities of republican executive bodies.
The Government shall appoint and remove the Governors of the provinces, who shall implement the Government's regional policy and coordinate the regional activities of republican executive bodies. When the Administrator of a district is removed by the decision of the Government, special elections shall be held within a period of thirty days. Until such time as the newly elected District Administrator may take office, an Acting District Administrator shall be appointed by the Prime Minister for urban districts and by the Governor for rural districts.
The election procedure of local self-governing bodies and their powers shall be determined by the Constitution and the laws.
7. Legal Education
The main institution which trains students to work at governmental bodies, the court system, the prosecutor’s office, and other law enforcing bodies, as well as to serve in scientific and educational institutions in the field of law is the Law School of the Yerevan State University.
The education of lawyers at the School is conducted in three levels: Bachelor program (4 years), Master program (2 years) and Ph.D. program (3 years). Within the Master program students are specialized in three fields of law: constitutional law, civil law and criminal law.
There are six departments at the School: Department of Theory and History of the State and Law, Department of Constitutional and International Law, Department of Civil Law, Department of Civil Procedure, Department of Criminal Law, and Department of Criminal Procedure and Criminality.
In the criminal investigation laboratory students obtain practical experience.
The main subjects of study are the history of the Armenian state and law, the history of Armenian political and legal thought, theory of state and law, constitutional law, civil law, criminal law, administrative law, international law, environmental law, comparative constitutional law, civil, criminal and administrative procedure, criminology, the fundamentals of human rights, etc. Research is conducted in these fields of law, and textbooks, manuals, course materials are published in the small printing-house of the Faculty and other publishing houses.
The School issues "The Problems of Jurisprudence" quarterly, in which the scholarly articles of the law professors and students are published.
At the School there is a computer center – electronic law library that has a direct connection to Internet.
In addition to research and teaching, the law professors of the School participate in the development of the new legislation of the Republic of Armenia, and carry out scientific examinations.
The School has extensive international relations, and co-operates, in particular, with United States Agency of International Development (USAID), Constitutional and Legal Policy Institute (COLPI) and University of California Berkeley.
Much work is currently being done at the School to introduce the advanced experience of the law schools of American and European Universities into the teaching process.
The YSU School of Law Library is housed in the Law Building with entry on the second level. It was founded in 1997-1998 academic year. This is the result of long-term joint efforts of the School of Law Computer Center-Electronic Library specialists, NYU Law Library, and USAID.
The primary function of the Law Library is to provide the necessary services for instruction, study and research by students, professors, other law specialists (judges, attorneys, scholars etc.), and general public interested in law.
The Library's primary concern is to build a modern law library and become a leading research and information center in the region using all available means of information technology.
For accomplishment of mentioned task, the Law Library provides the following services:
· Reference Service which provides users with all necessary information and assistance;
· Copiers for patrons’ use;
· Group Study Reading Room for use by the School of Law students and professors;
· Research Guides to law resources;
· Computer Lab which consists of 15 Pentium workstations with direct access to the Internet.
The YSU School of Law Library is divided into two parts: Computer Center and Book service.
Computer terminals in the YSU School of Law Library Computer Center allow access to the Library of Yerevan State University free databases. For those with individual or corporate passwords access to LEXIS and WESTLAW is also available.
Book service in the Law Library Reading Room is available for the entire collection of foreign and Armenian laws.
The Reading Room collection is approximately 320 volumes and includes textbooks, laws and regulations, court reports, current issues of legal periodicals, and other important secondary sources.
The Law Library's holdings number approximately 5,000 items. In addition to Armenian law materials, the Law Library houses a collection of foreign law, including codes, constitutions, official gazettes, law reports, periodicals etc.
8. Useful Links
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia
- Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia
- Ministry of Agriculture
- Ministry of Energy
- Ministry of Transport and Communication
- Ministry of Environmental Protection
- Ministry of Justice
- Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
- Ministry of Trade and Economic Development
- Ministry of Education and Science
- Ministry of Defense
- Ministry of Finance and Economy
8.2. Other Bodies of State Governance
- The Central Bank of Armenia
- National Security Service
- State Committee of the Real Estate Cadastre
- Department for Emergency Situations
- State Tax Service
- State Customs Committee
- Department for Migration and Refugees
- State Property Management Department
- General Department of Civil Aviation
- Securities Commission of the Republic of Armenia
- IT Development Support Council
- Civil Service Council of the Republic of Armenia
- Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Armenia
- Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia
- National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia
8.3. Other Links
- The National Academy of Sciences of Armenia
- Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts
- Armenia Gateway
- Armenian Development Agency
- Armenia - Information