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A preface and an introduction

ByROBERT L. NELSON, LEE CABATINGAN

Initially and broadly referred to as “rule-of-law scholarship,” the research in this volume was catalyzed by the equally broadly titled “World Justice Project,” a “multinational, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen the rule-oflaw worldwide” (American Bar Association 2008). As part of its mission, the World Justice Project sought to generate new scholarship on the rule-of-law that would (again, stated broadly) (1) advance the understanding of the processes that lead to and impede the development of the rule-of-law in different national contexts, and (2) advance the understanding of the contributions that the rule of law can make to reducing poverty, violence, and corruption, and increasing education and health. Given the complexity and variety of issues falling within this directive, the Project quickly settled on a strategy of organizing groups of scholars to examine specific aspects of the rule of law, rather than attempt a single research statement. The resulting two volumes of conference papers prepared for the World

Justice Forum held in Vienna in July 2008 are key elements of this scholarly effort. The first volume, which, as noted above, was informally called “rule-oflaw scholarship,” has evolved into Global Perspectives on the Rule of Law. It explores foundational questions and debates on the rule of law, with special emphasis on the relationship between the rule-of-law and economic and political development. The second volume, Marginalized Communities and Access to Justice (Ghai and Cottrell forthcoming), focuses on access to justice and the particular challenges that traditionally marginalized social groups face in attempting to achieve justice through formal and informal justice systems. Born from the same origins, these volumes have been published concurrently and, together, offer a wide expanse of new research on the rule of law that will hopefully stimulate and encourage the next generation of scholarship in this area. In the introduction to this volume we hope to provide a rough outline of the

concept of the rule-of-law, allowing the following chapters to fill out this sketch through the authors’ research and differing perspectives. We also

endeavor to identify some of the themes that have brought together this group of authors and have guided the organization of this book. Indeed, while the breadth of issues, regions, and academic fields covered in this volume are impressive, significant overarching messages can be extracted from this body of work. In this way, we view this project as an important contribution to both micro-level and macro-level analyses of rule-of-law. The “global” of Global Perspectives, therefore, should be taken to represent two aspects of this project: the diverse, multifaceted research reflective of the diverse, multifaceted world community, as well as the universality of the themes that arise from the totality of this work.