During the last ten years an almost universal consensus has taken hold in Western policy circles that promoting the rule of law around the world is vital to a host of crucial enterprises, including democracy promotion, economic development, and anti-terrorism. And almost every bilateral and multilateral aid organization is now carrying out rule-of-law aid programs.

Yet fundamental questions about this burgeoning field remain open. Are different rule-of-law programs based on a common conception of the goal? Should they be? Has there emerged a set of clear best practices on which aid providers can rely? Can rule of law promotion really make a difference in the many troubled societies where it is carried out? In short, is this new field on the way to becoming a coherent endeavor capable of fulfilling the many hopes and expectations invested in it?

Drawing from his new book, Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad: In Search of Knowledge, Carnegie's Thomas Carothers participates in a discussion of these issues with moderator James Michel, senior counsel, DPK Consulting; Lisa Bhansali, senior public sector specialist, World Bank; Rachel Kleinfeld, director, Truman National Security Project; and Neil Kritz, director, Rule of Law Program, U.S. Institute of Peace