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Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law


This course, like the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) itself, is devoted to exploring the links between various components of the establishment of democracy, economic growth and rule of law. We will examine, in particular, how and why democratic, economically developed states arise as well as how rule of law can be established in places where historically it has been largely absent.

As a research community, CDDRL associates generally agree that the establishment of robust political, economic and legal institutions is an important piece in the puzzle of how democratic states are established and economies develop. But what do we mean by institutions exactly? What variation is there in how democracies are organized? What effects do such variations have on political and economic outcomes? How are such institutions built in conflict ridden places like Iraq or Afghanistan, and states in transition from communism like Russia, Tajikistan or perhaps China? How much does history matter or is there a universal formula or set of ideas the international policy community might use to promote democracy, development and the rule of law?

We will take these questions as our starting points in exploring the complex and still poorly understood relationships between democracy, economic growth and law based polities. The course is divided into four parts.

In the first part of the course, we will consider various understandings of democracy, economic development and rule of law as well as different ways in which each has been established institutionally. For example, some polities have elections on a regular basis in which political leaders are chosen, but they cannot necessarily be considered "liberal" democracies because the franchise is somehow limited, or norms of fairness and equal access are not established. Similarly, analysts often talk about the developed versus the developing world, but what do these distinctions mean in practice? How do we measure "development"? Finally, the rule of law is a popular term with international aid organizations, but what is it exactly and what effect does its establishment have on democratic and economic development?

In the second part of the course, we will look at the actual variation in how democracies, market economies and rule of law systems functions in practice and what the consequences are of different institutional forms and choices. For example, what effect does the choice of a parliamentary over a presidential system make for the consolidation of a stable democracy? How do decisions about the degree of state regulation in the market affect economic growth? How do different forms of constitutionalism influence state development?

The third part of the course will look in deeper empirical detail at how democratic systems have come about historically in different parts of the world. We will examine challenges to dominant models of democratization and institutionalization, various experiences in how sovereign states have come to be established, and how markets are built. What is the role of indigenous versus international actors in these processes? How does the European experience compare to those of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, for example?

Finally, in the fourth part of the course, we will look at the available policy instruments commonly used in international democracy, rule of law, and development promotion efforts. What is the role of the United Nations? What is the approach of the United States versus the European Union? What is the role of the World Bank? What is the role of the IMF? What is the function and effect of non-governmental organizations on these processes?

Course Number: 
Course Quarter: 
Course Year: 
2 006
Course Instructors: 
Kathryn Stoner
Kathryn Stoner-Weiss
Michael A. McFaul
Michael A. McFaul
Course Type: 
For Credit