Technical assistance to establish the rule of law is an important part of multilateral and bilateral aid in support of good governance, though bilateral donors have greater freedom to impose political conditions which acknowledge the significance of the rule of law for democratic politics and human rights (Faundez, 1997). The World Bank has taken the lead since 1980, though under restrictions imposed by its articles of agreement, limiting its formal role to capacity-building and the development of laws needed for the establishment of a market economy. The Bank regards a ‘foundation of law’ as essential for the development of markets, the protection of property rights and economic development generally. Its first priority in poor countries is ‘to lay the initial building blocks of lawfulness: protection of life and property from criminal acts, restraints on arbitrary action by government officials, and a judicial system that is fair and predictable’. When the rule of law is weakened by ‘arbitrary and capricious state action’, state officials can place themselves above the law, and development ‘hits a brick wall’ (World Bank, 1997: 45, 99). The rule of law is also seen as contributing to social stability, a necessary condition for economic development. The legal framework of a borrowing country is thus brought within the Bank’s mandate, as in the case of the Judicial Infrastructure Project in Venezuela.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
- The Rule of Law
B. C. Smith
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number