Western aid agencies prescribe rule-of-law programs to cure a remarkably wide array of ailments in developing and post-communist countries, from corruption and surging crime to lagging foreign investment and growth. Yet there is a surprising amount of uncertainty about their actual impact on these problems, as well as a lack of knowledge at many levels of conception, operation, and evaluation of the entire rule-of-law field.

In this new working paper, Thomas Carothers argues that the rapidly growing field of rule-of-law assistance is operating from a disturbingly thin base of knowledge—with respect to the core rationale of the work, how change in the rule of law occurs, and the real effects of the changes that are produced.

About the Author
Thomas Carothers
, a senior associate at the Carengie Endowment, is the founder and director of the Endowment's Democracy and Rule of Law Project. He is the author of several books on democracy promotion, including Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve.

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