Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad: In Search of Knowledge

Thomas Carothers Book January 1, 2006 Washington
Promoting the rule of law has become a major part of Western efforts to spread democracy and market economics around the world. Although programs to foster the rule of law abroad have mushroomed, well-grounded knowledge about what factors ensure success, and why, remains scarce.

Promoting the rule of law has become a major part of Western efforts to spread democracy and market economics around the world. Although programs to foster the rule of law abroad have mushroomed, well-grounded knowledge about what factors ensure success, and why, remains scarce. In Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad, leading practitioners and policy-oriented scholars draw on years of experience—in Russia, China, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa— to critically assess the rationale, methods, and goals of rule-of-law policies. These incisive, accessible essays offer vivid portrayals and penetrating analyses of the challenges that define this vital but often misunderstood field.


Rachel Kleinfeld (Truman National Security Project), Lisa Bhansali (World Bank), Christina Biebesheimer (World Bank),Wade Channell, Stephen Golub, David Mednicoff (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Laure-Hélène Piron (Overseas Development Institute), Matthew Spence (Truman National Security Project), Matthew Stephenson (Harvard Law School), and Frank Upham (NYU School of Law).

Thomas Carothers is founder and director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment. He is a leading authority on democracy promotion and democratization worldwide as well as an expert on U.S. foreign policy.

Reviews for this publication

“Once again, as he did with democratization, Thomas Carothers has taken a topic with grand rhetorical appeal that is subject to multiple meanings and brought it down to earth for both scholars and practitioners. This book offers an invaluable cumulation of what is known about promoting the rule of law abroad while raising an essential set of questions to guide further research and practice.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

“If you want to understand why promoting the rule of law around the world is both ardently pursued and hotly criticized, read this spirited and sobering book. Carothers's own essays are the gold standard in this field. And he has assembled a group of exceptionally thoughtful practitioners and scholars to explore the entire range of problems confronting international rule-of-law programs. An indispensable work in a field of vital importance.”
—Stephen Holmes, Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

“This volume pays the highest compliment to those who advocate the rule of law as essential for development: it takes their efforts seriously enough to subject them to searching scrutiny. The insightful, accessible analysis it contains will help move rule of law promotion from slogan to reality.”
—Richard Messick, Sr. Public Sector Specialist, The World Bank

End of document

About the Democracy and Rule of Law Program

The Carnegie Democracy and Rule of Law Program rigorously examines the global state of democracy and the rule of law and international efforts to support their advance.


Publication Resources

In Fact



of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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