Many nations, principally in Eastern Europe and Latin America, have in the last two decades undergone democratization and market reforms. The difficulties these nations face in implementing the rule of law, however, have undermined these reforms. The rule of law, therefore, has moved to the center of an intellectual debate concerning how best to engineer the transformations needed for political and economic development to occur. As Thomas Carothers notes, the “concept [of the rule of law] is suddenly everywhere—a venerable part of Western political philosophy enjoying a new run as a rising imperative of the era of globalization” (1998: 951).

Oddly, it has not been lawyers but principally social scientists who have made the rule of law an important topic in development studies. The economist Hernando ...

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