Rule of Law

The Democracy Council’s Rule of Law (ROL) program works around the world to promote the rule of law. We have partnered with donors, such as the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement effective ROL programmatic strategies tailored to specific circumstances, which have informed our general approach.

Our ROL programmatic strategy in a given context involves:
1) Identification of the relevant laws, institutions, people, history, and other key actors
2) Understanding the functional relationships among these ROL components
3) Coordination of potential ROL reform assets from donors and other assistance providers—within and without the justice sector
4) Assessment of the justice sector in light of this information and analysis
5) Design of targeted development interventions that capitalize upon available assets and reform opportunities
6) Continuous improvement of program implementation based on proper monitoring and evaluation of performance
We have assembled a tailored set of capabilities designed to ensure that recipients of services have access to the expertise required to implement customized, secure solutions appropriate for complex political environments, including conflict or post-conflict scenarios.
The ROL community has learned through experience that a “one size fits all” approach will not succeed. Each country’s constitution, laws, rules, and regulations are unique to that particular context. Of course, common constructs may apply, such as the separation of powers among executive, judicial, and legislative branches of formal government, but even where institutions or processes may be familiar, it is necessary to delve into the details. The lessons learned demonstrate that ROL is about norms, values, and needs, which shape and regulate behavior, as well as formal institutions and processes. To fully comprehend a specific ROL situation, assistance providers must assess and maintain an understanding of the specific local modalities and constituencies, and how these incorporate local interests, skills, beliefs, concerns, relationships, and business processes—both formal and informal.

For example, a sound technical analysis may reveal that the classic branches of government do not enjoy support or participation from civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector, and/or members of society, undermining their use and legitimacy in a general sense. In fact, true ROL agents of change may be found outside justice sector institutions. By exploring the actual functional relationships ROL institutions possess/lack in a society, our programmatic strategy is better able to identify specific elements where ROL assistance is most likely to be effective. This multilayered analytic approach maximizes identification of “targets of opportunity” rather than pursuing formulaic interventions.