One of a series of 13 briefs exploring the strengths and weaknesses of
the policies advocated in Paul Collier's controversial and influential
book 'The Bottom Billion'.
In The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier promotes laws and charters as a
cheap and powerful tool to institutionalise development priorities and
help the poorest countries, a task framed as a global public good. While
the logic is appealing, it has flaws. Laws and charters are commonly
either cheap or powerful, yet rarely both at the same time. They can
improve governance, but their effectiveness is highly dependent on the
politics of implementation. Short of creating purely symbolic
'parchment barriers', these requirements have to be better understood
before global prescriptions can bear fruit.
IDS In Focus Issue 3.10, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 4 pp
International Laws and Charters: Global Prescriptions for Effective Reform?