How Might the Rule of Law Be Developed in Non-Democratic Settings? The Colonial Path to the Rule of Law in Sudan, 1898-1956
50 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 12 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
The paper examines how the British brought the Sudanese under colonial control by promoting the rule of law and seeking to create an independent judiciary. A close analysis of the British experience in colonial Sudan (the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, 1898-1956) shows how authoritarian regimes in general can deploy the rule of law to perpetuate their authority. The British instituted courts, legal procedures, and standard methods of appeal in order to deter crime, resolve private disputes, address individual grievances, and moderate the exercise of state power. The rule of law was strong enough to be taken seriously (and later adopted wholesale) by Sudanese intellectuals and major political and religious figures. In the long-term, Sudanese elites received a first-class education in the rule of law at the hands of colonial oppressors and ultimately used those laws and institutions to rid themselves of colonial authority. Research is based on 18 months of field research in Sudan since 2005 as well as on archival research in England and Egypt, Sudan's colonial masters.
Keywords: law, colonial, British, colony, Sudan, rule of law, condominium, authoritarian, human rights, court, judiciary, Islam
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