New Rules for the Rule of Law? External Actors and Rule of Law Development in Post-Conflict African Societies

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48th Annual International Studies Association Convention/Chicago, IL

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Transgressive political contention can incapacitate state efforts to secure peace and restore order. Increasingly, external non-state actors seek to fill this gap by implementing a variety of rule-of-law programs designed to promote peace and public order in post-conflict settings. At same time, local peoples increasingly call for the use of traditional legal mechanisms to promote peace and justice. It is unclear whether and how such externally provided rule-of-law programs can articulate effectively with local legal traditions to yield peace and justice. We contend that externally implemented rule-of-law programs beneficially introduce normative concerns that would otherwise remain unaddressed. However, we further contend that realization of any such benefit depends upon the extent to which such programs resonate with traditional norms and customs and are designed with sensitivity to the political and cultural context of their implementation. We compare cases of external non-state actor?s programs that promote the rule of law in several African states that have recently experienced conflict episodes (e.g., Liberia, Rwanda, Burundi). To test our contentions, by examining the discourse and circumstances surrounding their formulation and implementation, we assess the linkages between underlying motives and political effectiveness of each rule-of-law promotion program.

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