In the modern era, political leaders and scholars have declared the rule of law to be essential to democracy, a necessity for economic growth, and a crucial tool in the fight for security at home and stability abroad. The United States has spent billions attempting to catalyze rule-of-law improvements within other countries. Yet despite the importance and the hard work of hundreds of practitioners on the ground, the track record of rule-of-law promotion has been paltry.

In Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad, Rachel Kleinfeld describes the history and current state of reform efforts and the growing movement of second-generation reformers who view the rule of law not as a collection of institutions and laws that can be built by outsiders, but as a relationship between the state and society that must be shaped by those inside the country. Based on research in countries from Indonesia to Albania, Kleinfeld makes a compelling case for new methods of reform that can have greater chances of success at helping these internal reformers and improving the rule of law.

Reviews for this publication

“Rachel Kleinfeld not only assesses past efforts to support the rule of law abroad, but offers innovative approaches for future assistance. The work of scholars and practitioners alike will benefit measurably from her insights.”
Kenneth Wollack, President, National Democratic Institute

“While policymakers increasingly recognize the risks to U.S. national security when the rule of law breaks down abroad, there is far less consensus on what to do about it. Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad tackles this question head-on with timely and powerful insight. Full of careful analysis and accessible prose, Kleinfeld brings conceptual clarity to an emerging field.”
Jeremy Weinstein, Stanford University, Former Director for Development and Democracy, National Security Council

“This book is impressive, thoughtful, and full of practical wisdom. Kleinfeld analyzes many of the challenges we faced in helping civilian rule-of-law development experts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This should be on the reading list of anyone preparing to perform rule-of-law work in a post-conflict setting.”
—Brigadier General Mark Martins, U.S. Army

Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad was named by Foreign Affairs as one of the best books of 2012 on political and legal topics. “Kleinfeld brings together a good grasp of the scholarship on law and society with the sensibilities and hard-earned experience of a field practitioner. The result is essential reading for the foreign policy community.”
G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs