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The Mythology of International Rule-of-Law Promotion

  • Shane Chalmers

Abstract

In 1992 Peter Fitzpatrick published The Mythology of Modern Law, a work that exposed the constitutive relation between Europe’s racialized imperialism and its conception of modern law. In the three decades since, a renewed field of “law and development” has grown, this time in the name of “the rule of law.” This Article shows how the mythology of modern law endures in this field of rule-of-law development. To do this, Part I draws out the main threads from Mythology. These are then woven through the Article, beginning with the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index®, before turning to the United Nations’ rule-of-law assistance, and ending with the World Bank’s 2017 World Development Report. The analysis shows how the mythology of modern law, in its racialized imperial form, is integral to the work of international rule-of-law promotion. One consequence is the denial of “local” law by a rule of law that obtains its authority by purporting to be responsive to legal pluralism. But the Article also points to the mythological possibilities of decolonization, specifically the possibilities of a “mythological legal pluralism” that is attentive to the ways in which the world’s plurality of laws already rule.

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The Mythology of International Rule-of-Law Promotion

  • Shane Chalmers

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