Asian Discourses of Rule of Law
15 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2003
This preface to Asian Discourses of Rule of Law provides an overview of the larger project of which this volume is the first installment. The overall project consists of nine conference volumes that seek to advance our theoretical understanding of law and legal systems by examining legal system development and rule of law in Asia, using the U.S. and France or Germany as comparison points. Given the great diversity among legal systems, the purpose is to understand how rule of law is theorized and implemented, and the role of law and the legal system with respect to economic growth, political reform and democratization, the protection of human rights and geopolitical stability.
More specifically, this project will (i) explore the extent to which Asian conceptions of rule of law differ from conceptions of rule of law in the U.S. and France; (ii) provide a much needed empirical foundation to what has hitherto been an excessively abstract and overly politicized debate about "Asian values;" (iii) revolutionize comparative law by bringing Asian legal systems into the mainstream of comparative legal studies; (iv) shed light on the development of legal systems and the factors that account for success or failure in the transplant of law from one legal system to another; (v) test the relationship between law and economic development; (vi) examine the relationship between legal system reforms and political reforms, especially the relationship between rule of law, democracy and human rights; and (vii) enhance our understanding of theories and implementation of international law in Asia, and the role the legal systems play in geopolitical stability and the engagement of Asian countries with other countries in the international arena.
The first conference volume set the stage for subsequent conferences/volumes by providing a general overview of the dominant conceptions of law, organized around the theme of rule of law, and by providing a brief description of the constitutional structure and institutional framework. Subsequent conferences examine specific areas of law or topics in law to determine: (i) whether there are differences/similarities between the countries with respect to the rules (the black letter law), (ii) differences or similarities with respect to the outcomes in particular cases (or the way events are handled if they are not subject to formal legal resolution) and (iii) the justifications/explanations for such outcomes (legal reasons, cultural/philosophical explanations, or economic, political or institutional explanations).
Keywords: rule of law in Asia, comparative legal systems, economic growth, political reform and democratization, the protection of human rights and geopolitical stability
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