As governments and donor agencies struggle over questions of aid and international development, a growing consensus is emerging that there is an explicit link between rule of law reform and sustainable growth. However, this new rule of law orthodoxy ignores evidence that the formalist rule of law advocated by the World Bank and other donors does not necessarily exist in the developed world. Moreover, attempting to transplant a common template of institutions and legal rules into developing countries without attention to indigenous contexts harms preexisting mechanisms for dealing with issues such as property ownership and conflict resolution.

About the Author
Frank Upham
is professor of law at New York University School of Law and a specialist in comparative law. He is the author of Law and Social Change in Postwar Japan.

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