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Global Jurist

Ed. by Mattei, Ugo / Monti, Alberto

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Promise or Plunder? A Past and Future Look at Law and Development

Laura Nader1

1UC Berkeley

Citation Information: Global Jurist. Volume 7, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1934-2640, DOI: 10.2202/1934-2640.1221, August 2007

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Continuities between the law and development movement of the 1960s and current rule of law efforts, some forty years later, indicate that past mistakes might be repeated. Committing to a new course of action first requires examining our original perspective. Normative blindness, false comparisons, legal orientalism, self-serving definitions of what other legal cultures ``lack," imposition versus voluntary receptions of law, and disparities in the developed world create a credibility problem that endangers contemporary efforts.Examples of collisions between state law and non-state law in Zambia, Sardinia, Afghanistan, Iraq, New Guinea, and Paraguay discussed in this article illustrate how the expansion of Euro-American law affects populations in ways that belie ``rule-of-law" rhetoric. Examining the purpose of law, development, and equity projects—i.e., whether they support plunder or redistribution, compensation or punishment, or condone economic development by invasion—should motivate further inquiry into the very premises of western law and its uses in colonialization and globalization. Fuller consideration of the framework within which development efforts operate can lead to more effective policies based on deeds rather than words—that is, policies based on the twenty-first rather than the eighteenth century.

Keywords: law; legal development; normative blindness; legal receptions

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