Breaking Legal Inequality Traps: New Approaches to Building Justice Systems for the Poor in Developing Countries

Posted: 19 Jun 2009

See all articles by Caroline Sage

Caroline Sage

World Bank

Michael Woolcock

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: June 18, 2009

Abstract

There has long been broad agreement on the importance of building - and enhancing access to - 'rule of law' systems in developing countries, but efforts to do either of these things have a long and unhappy history. These disappointments, we contend, stem largely from a prevailing theory that overlooks (a) the interdependence of 'policies', 'laws', and 'rules systems', (b) the cultural contexts in which all three are inherently embedded, (c) the political processes by which they acquire their institutional form and legitimacy, and thus (d) the complexities associated with undertaking judicial reform initiatives. We outline an alternative approach which centers on understanding what we call 'legal inequality traps', and show how it is informing a new generation of innovative efforts to improve the accessibility, legitimacy and effectiveness of justice systems for the poor.

Keywords: justice sector reform, access to justice, institutional reform, policy reform

Suggested Citation

Sage, Caroline and Woolcock, Michael, Breaking Legal Inequality Traps: New Approaches to Building Justice Systems for the Poor in Developing Countries (June 18, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1421810

Caroline Sage

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Michael Woolcock (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Mailstop MC3-306
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-9258 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/mwoolcock

Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government ( email )

Littauer-G-11G
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-0911 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ksgfaculty.harvard.edu/michael_woolcock

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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