Our world affords no starker contrast than that between societies where peace generally prevails and those where violence is commonplace. The former are generally blessed with the rule of law; the latter cursed by its absence. Societies where the rule of law prevails offer an open field for the pursuit of dreams, while those where the law of the jungle rules are crowded with continual nightmares. Anyone who has spent time in both kinds of places can describe her own feelings in a way that will capture much of what is important about the differences between them. And yet, when it comes to accounting for these differences, still more doing something about them, our ignorance is quite astounding.
Our topic, therefore, could hardly be a more harrowing one, both intellectually and practically. We will begin with a sketch of how the rule of law is viewed by those currently attempting to generate it, typically where it has been conspicuous by its absence. Partly in light of the hollowness of many of the institution-focused efforts that have predominated in the field of rule-of-law reform over the past 20 years or so, and partly on theoretical grounds, we will advance two underlying principles of an alternative approach. We will then attempt to describe some of the features essential to rule-of-law societies and the conditions that foster or at least allow them to evolve. Finally we will discuss some of the considerations basic to any attempt to move from circumstances pervaded by internal violence to a political and social order characterised by the rule of law, civility and peace that is a precondition for most other desirable features of life.
Date of this Version
Martin Krygier and Whit Mason, "Violence, development and the rule of law" (March 2008). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series 2008. Working Paper 8.