Hague Journal on the Rule of Law


Truth and Consequences in Rule of Law: Inferences, Attribution and Evaluation

Elin Cohen*, Kevin J. Fandl*, Amanda Perry-Kessaris* and Veronica L. Taylor*


Billions of dollars are spent on legal development every year, but its effectiveness continues to be questioned. Many donors have responded to this internal and external critique by developing monitoring and evaluating systems. This article problematizes the tendency of conventional modes of evaluation to assume a link between the outcomes of individual projects (the ‘truth’ of rule of law) and the fulfillment of overarching program goals (the ‘consequences’). We argue that examining this assumed link is of particular importance as rule of law projects take place within a host of simultaneous political and social changes; are time consuming and unpredictable and have multiple and sometimes conflicting objectives. Our analysis of four recent rule of law projects from Asia, Africa and Latin America exposes the inability of conventional evaluations to accommodate such complexities. We demonstrate how, by contrast, robust empirical research reveals important truths about the disparity between the actual, intended and unintended consequences of legal development projects.

(Online publication May 17 2011)


  • Rule of law;
  • project evaluation;
  • economic development;
  • investment climate;
  • access to justice;
  • informal economy;
  • India;
  • China;
  • Kenya;
  • Colombia


* Elin Cohen, JSD (PhD in Law), part-time lecturer, University of Washington School of Law

* Kevin J. Fandl, PhD, JD Adjunct Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law

* Amanda Perry-Kessaris, Professor of International Economic Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

* Veronica L. Taylor Professor, Regulatory Institutions Network, School of Regulation, Justice and Diplomacy, Australian National University.