(Economic) Development and the Rule of Law

In Jens Meierhenrich and Martin Loughlin (eds), The Cambridge Companion to the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming).

27 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2019

See all articles by Shane Chalmers

Shane Chalmers

Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH), Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

Sundhya Pahuja

Melbourne Law School

Date Written: January 10, 2019

Abstract

Since the end of the 1980s, a multi-billion dollar development industry has become centrally concerned with ‘the rule of law’ as instrument, end, and indicator of ‘development’. Yet, while the term ‘rule of law’ may be a relative newcomer to the development project, this most recent form of developmental intervention continues in striking ways the nineteenth and early twentieth century attempts to reshape the non-European world. In those earlier interventions, the ‘gift’ of law was integral to the civilising mission, promising both a ‘universal’ mode of being in the world and a guide for realising it. Thus it was imagined by some that (European) law could spearhead efforts to turn the new world to account, by providing the technology by which its lands and peoples could become the property and propertied transactors of an emerging global economy. Law was imagined too as a pedagogy for constituting ‘modern’ legal subjects, and as an institutional system for regulating and enforcing the new economic norms. In this chapter we use the example of Liberia to illustrate the work that the ‘rule of law’ does today in the context of developmental and state-making interventions, as well as to draw out some of the continuities with earlier forms of intervention. We have chosen Liberia because of its extraordinary and yet all-too-ordinary experience of development throughout its colonial and post-colonial periods. In describing Liberia’s experience as at once extraordinary and ordinary, singular and exemplary, we aim to show how the putative universality of ‘the rule of law’ in the development project is both economically inflected and Occidentally derived, and to highlight the violence of developmental interventions carried out in its name.

Keywords: rule of law, economic development, Liberia, post-colonial studies

Suggested Citation

Chalmers, Shane and Pahuja, Sundhya, (Economic) Development and the Rule of Law (January 10, 2019). In Jens Meierhenrich and Martin Loughlin (eds), The Cambridge Companion to the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3313805

Shane Chalmers (Contact Author)

Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH), Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Australia

Sundhya Pahuja

Melbourne Law School ( email )

University of Melbourne
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 7102 (Phone)

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