Program on State Building and the Rule of LawCDDRL Program
The establishment of rule of law is an integral component of state development. Building a new legal system or reforming an existing one involves complex and varied tasks ranging from drafting of laws, to the training of judges, to the establishment of human rights ombudsman and/or war crime trials. These activities all require not only practicing lawyers, but also legal academics and new graduates who join the legal profession. For the rule of law to become entrenched in a post-conflict or developing nation, there must exist a reservoir of legal professionals who know how to navigate the legal system, enforce the law, and guide individuals as to the available legal remedies. Often, however, developing or post-conflict countries do not have a sufficient number of trained lawyers to overcome the inherent challenges facing them. For example, after the fall of Pol Pot in Cambodia, there were seven trained lawyers in the country, and in Afghanistan five years after the fall of the Taliban, there were 250 trained lawyers in a state with a population of approximately 44 million. In Bhutan today, there are 86 lawyers mostly trained at poor Indian law schools. The lack of trained lawyers is due in large part to the absence of legal education that meets international standards. Even countries not beset by conflict often neglect legal education and basic capacity issues.
The Program on Statebuilding and the Rule of Law, therefore, focuses on one of the most fundamental, yet often-ignored rule of law missions: establishing and improving legal education in post-conflict, developing, and transitional states. Rule of law initiatives often fail because they are predicated on a faulty assumption - that there exists a pool of qualified lawyers able to positively contribute to the nation's development and rebuilding. By harnessing the resources and expertise of the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) and Stanford Law School (SLS), Stanford University is uniquely positioned to assist states to rebuild, reform, and otherwise modernize their systems of legal education, and, thereby contribute to their peaceful reconstruction and development.
This research program has several dimensions
- A seminar at Stanford Law School, led by Erik Jensen, titled Statebuilding and the Rule of Law, introduced the key theories relevant to state-building generally and strengthening the rule of law in particular. The course critically examined efforts to promote state-building and the rule of law in transitional countries. The seminar situated rule of law programs conceptually and practically with the imperative to build durable formal and informal institutions, including legal institutions, that have legitimacy and capacity and can ensure security. The seminar also critically assessed case studies of state-building as well as requests for proposal (RFPs), requests for application (RFAs), evaluations and other project documents generated by the development industry for state-building. The seminar will be offered again in the fall quarter, 2009.
- Clinics and Applied Research - Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Timor Leste: Students who take the seminar are eligible to participate in two on-going clinics in Afghanistan and Bhutan, and a third clinic may be developed in Timor Leste in 2010.
- Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP): Begun in 2007, the ALEP is dedicated to developing innovative legal curricula for Afghan universities to train the next generation of Afghan lawyers. ALEP designed the first ever law class taught at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), which was taught for the first time in the fall semester of 2008. It is currently the only law class in the country which addresses the new legal system under the 2004 constitution. The course is based on An Introduction to the Law of Afghanistan, a textbook written by students during the 2007-08 academic year. The textbook is the first and only legal textbook developed in Afghanistan in over a generation. It provides a comprehensive overview of the laws of Afghanistan. It covers six principal topics: the legal history of Afghanistan, the Constitution and legal institutions of Afghanistan, property law, commercial law, criminal law, and legal rights. This year, students in ALEP have written initial drafts of textbooks in commercial law and criminal law. Once finalized, all of these texts will be published in Dari and Pushto. The texts will also be posted on the web. Stanford will receive a grant in the first quarter of 2009 for approximately $640,000 to fund ALEP activities over the next three years.