These are important insights about promoting institutional change in developing countries. The emphasis on informal dynamics (power, incentives, culture, politics) rather than just formal rules and functions is applicable to public sector institutions more broadly. Donors need to support broad change coalitions over the long term and take advantage of windows of opportunity. Finally, reform and change needs to be, above all else, relevant to the local population.
Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, Founder of the Truman National Security Project, discusses techniques to improve the rule of law sector.
1) The most important elements to change are a country’s power structure and culture –its popular and professional norms. Most first-generation rule of law programs focused on improving laws and institutions. Reformers would build new court buildings, providing equipment to police, rewrite commercial laws, and provide computers to improve case management. But no matter how badly it appears that these material goods are needed, second generation reformers have discovered that they are secondary to real reform. Until power structures and professional and popular culture support the rule of law, politically powerful individuals can ignore it, and laws and institutions will continue to malfunction. Therefore, the crucial realization of second generation reform is that countries lack the rule of law not because they are ignorant…
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