The Role of Law and the Rule of Law in Economic Development Process: Quest for New Directions and Approaches in International Development Law Regime


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It has generally appeared in the international development legal regime that Law has been approached as ‘a tool for development itself’. In this sense, experts sometimes assume that Law is both distinctively placed and uniquely suited as a mechanism for development programmes and projects because a key function of Law is to engineer, attain or enhance the social and economic changes necessary to achieve the goals of development. From this perspective, it is expected that Law will provide the infrastructural mechanism required for development, and that Law has the capacity to bring about the social, economic, and political changes needed, as well as necessary cultural attitudinal tenets conducive to development. The paper examines the approaches to the Role of Law and the importance of Rule of Law in economic development process. It critics the current approach which sees Law as a ‘tool or mechanism for development itself’. It argues that Law and the Rule of Law should have better roles to play in the international development process in order to improve the development stance of the third world countries within the global plane. In order to make the international development law agenda ‘functional’, the strategy would be to approach Law as a ‘facilitator of development reform’ in developing countries, rather than as ‘a tool for development itself.’ It suggests that this approach of seeing Law as a facilitator will equally help take into consideration indigenous needs and distinctiveness, thereby remove disagreements over reform priorities and improve efficiency and accountability. This is a new direction which highlights the importance or necessity of focusing the international system’s approach to Law, as a ‘means to facilitate’ local empowerment, social cohesion and justice that is, as an approach to development consistent with the life choices and development goals of indigenous populations, rather than as it has generally appeared as an ‘end in itself’. The paper uses the well-being and structural-functional legal theoretical approaches, interdisciplinary and critical-analytical perspective within the framework of (international) law and development. It employs qualitative empirical evidence from developed and developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)51-71
Number of pages21
JournalDenver Journal of International Law & Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2020

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