Growing Political Will from the Grassroots: How Social Movement Principles Can Reverse the Dismal Legacy of Rule of Law Interventions
54 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2011 Last revised: 3 Dec 2019
Date Written: 2009
The international community’s efforts to promote the rule of law and human rights in developing countries have been largely unsuccessful. This record of disappointment is typically attributed to a lack of political will for reform in the host societies. As a result, an estimated four billion people worldwide are without access to human rights, and suffer without recourse from discrimination, theft, and other forms of physical and emotional harm.
In order to more effectively bring about reform, it is time for rule of law promoters to draw upon the lessons of social science, and particularly the study of social movements. This Article represents the first effort to view the challenge of instilling political will for law reform through the prism of social movement theory and its analysis of events like the U.S. civil rights movement, the South African anti-apartheid movement, and the Eastern European democracy movement. This social movement analysis reveals substantial reason for optimism about achieving significant law reform in developing countries. Rule of law promoters must re-orient their approach and begin supporting the existing and evolving grassroots law reform organizations that mirror in key respects the organizations that have proven to be the catalysts for change in social movements. Properly supported, these organizations can grow and nurture the political will for access to justice that is so desperately needed by billions of people in the developing world.
Keywords: rule of law, social movements, human rights, Africa
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