Invoking the Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Rebuilding: A Critical Examination

Establishing the rule of law is increasingly seen as the panacea for all the problems that afflict many non-Western countries, particularly in post- conflict settings… This Article argues that this newfound fascination with the rule of law is misplaced… This Article proceeds as follows: Part I traces the historical origins of the links among security, development, and human rights discourses since World War II and identifies some recurring themes, despite real differences among them. Part I also points out the ways in which the lines among these discourses began blurring since the 1970s and during the post-Cold War period, especially in the context of peace operations. Part II discusses the convergence between the human rights and rule of law discourses in the post-Cold War period, but also points out the continuing differences between the two. Part III examines the meaning of the rule of law in the context of development and finds that the rule of law is no substitute for human rights. Part III also questions whether the rule of law is even a key requirement for successful economic growth. Part IV examines the meaning of the rule of law in the context of security and finds that reliance on this concept cannot hide the more fundamental question of legitimacy in the post-9/11 world. In the field of security, it would not be prudent to lessen the reliance on the discourse of human rights for the fuzzier discourse on the rule of law. The Conclusion then offers some reflections on the lessons that have been learned about how best to capture the synergy that may exist between different fields of international interventions in the security, development, and human rights policy domains.