Does the rule of law boost development and reduce poverty? Provide evidence from successful aid initiatives.
This report reviews the contribution of rule of law to development and
poverty reduction, with evidence from aid initiatives. The first section
provides a brief overview of the evidence base on the links between rule
of law and development and poverty reduction. The second looks at
evidence from successful aid initiatives, focusing on how interventions
have contributed to rule of law and why they have been successful.
Policing interventions are highlighted as a specific sub-area of
interest in the third section.
Links found between rule of law and development and poverty reduction:
- Causal relationships between rule of law and development are not
clear; the most recent literature suggests this relationship is
complex and unknown.
- It is critical to engage with local processes and/or gain local
buy-in. In some cases this includes supporting informal and customary
- Property rights and the enforcement of contracts are often cited as
necessary for an enabling business environment.
- A gender focus is imperative, as women are often discriminated against
in the legal system.
Aid initiatives contributing to rule of law:
- Incremental, ‘good-enough’ approaches appear to work best, especially
where they build on local understandings of rule of law and existing
- Legal empowerment and enabling poor people’s access to law is as
important as strengthening the institutions themselves.
- Successful interventions are often capacity-building.
- Rural outreach and access to justice programmes have also been
- Capacity-building is the most successful approach, but there is no
clear evidence on how interventions to improve police forces affect
- Crime, violence and the absence of security are suggested as important
constraints on economic growth and as drivers of poverty.
Browne, E. Evidence on &#8216;rule of law&#8217; aid initiatives (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1008). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 12 pp.