It has become a credo in the field of statebuilding1 that for societies to manage the transition from conflict to durable peace, they must establish the rule of law.2 Thus, in the rebuilding process of so-called ‘failed states5,3 rule of law promotion has become a popular reform activity including activities such as, reviewing and
vetting criminal laws in light of international human rights standards; training of judges and other legal professionals; supporting the formation of police forces and establishing human rights commissions and truth and reconciliation tribunals.4 As some commentators sarcastically remarked in a recent study, rule of law is like apple pie and ice cream, it is a concept that no one can dislike.5 This ‘rule of law template’ or ‘justice triad’ approach is promoted in a wide variety of different post-conflict situations from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Liberia and Haiti. 6
But, there is a contestant to the title of the most popular reform activity. This alternative to the standard menu says that in order to successfully address root causes to a conflict, one need also to focus on rule of law in relation to other areas, in particular to governance and economic management. Stripped to its essentials, this argument implies that it might be equally important to review the laws on public procurement as it is to review penal codes, and equally important as creating a human rights commission is the establishment of an independent prosecutorial office with a mandate to investigate charges of corruption.