MJIL Online brings you timely short-form articles that represent a wide range of views on contemporary issues in international and comparative law. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors only.
Vol. 37 Managing Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Consumers of all ages flock to stores like H&M, Forever 21, Zara for the latest trends at bargain prices. What they do not realize is the price that is really paid to produce their bargain buys. The “fast fashion” industry is experiencing a rapid race to the bottom. “Fast Fashion” is an industry is built on getting fashion’s latest trends to the market quickly and at bargain prices. Companies continuously look to the next country with the lowest wages and labor standards for production. For example, as of mid-2014, Gap Inc. is the first American retailer to move production to Myanmar and H&M is currently moving its production to Ethiopia. Companies’ desire for lower prices has exacerbated terrible working conditions. These terrible working conditions have led to deaths in the garment industries that produce clothes for “fast fashion” giants. And despite the worst accident in the garment industry just two years ago, little has changed.
Bangladesh’s Garment Industry and Rana Plaza
Bangladesh’s garment industry is an extremely vital part of its economy. It consists of 80% of the country’s overall exports and employs four million people in 5,600 factories, making Bangladesh the second largest garment
Amy Bergstraesser, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Legal History of Care
Sweden is known for being a successful and happy welfare state where lifetime benefits are funded by high taxes from Sweden’s sizable workforce. The well-being index places Sweden among the four happiest countries in the world. Keeping this expansive and expensive welfare model in mind, Sweden faces a rapidly aging population. Proportionally, Sweden has the highest number of elderly citizens in the world – in 2011, 19 percent of Sweden was 65 or over, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicted that by 2050 that number would rise to 24 percent. Sweden is therefore confronted with one of the highest life expectancies and the challenge of supporting elderly citizens who are accustomed to government care.
Germanic law provided the basis by which Sweden established the country’s historical continental law system, a structure based on written law, not case law. In the 1800s, adult children were legally required to take care of their parents if needs arose. A few families and underprivileged elders without family received assistance from local poor relief boards and/or municipal poorhouses, but those services were extremely limited. As this Swedish legal system of codifications morphed away from the
Vol. 37 Business & Development Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
India is aiming to become a renewable energy super power. India’s current prime minister, Narendra Modi, has outlined grand plans for India to provide electricity to 300 million Indians living without power, and to prepare for negotiations ahead for a United Nations deal to address global warming concerns.[i] India’s Minister of State, Piyush Goyal, expects $100 billion to be invested in renewable energy in India in the next five years. To incentivize this massive growth in solar energy infrastructure, Goyal has doubled the tax on coal. Specifically, this new decision doubles taxes on every metric ton of coal mined or imported by India. The revenue generated funds the National Clean Energy Fund and provides funding for clean energy while also introducing incentives to close dirty and inefficient coal plants that are older than 25 years.[ii] NCEF funds are earmarked for renewable energy projects, environmental projects and research and development.[iii]
The Launch of the National Solar Mission
On January 11th, 2010 the Prime Minister Modi formally launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM), under the brand name “Solar India.” The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global
Name Withheld by Request, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
It seems that every day we turn on the news, another terrorist attack occurs. A couple days ago Denmark, a month ago Paris. Two Tuesdays ago, a video surfaced purporting to originate from ISIS, showing a Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, burned to death while trapped in a cage. In response, King Abdullah II of Jordan promised a strong military response, including striking ISIS weapons depots and training sites. Jordan and ISIS had spent days attempting to work out negotiations to swap prisoners, until the video revealed ISIS savagely burning a human being alive. While this story ended in a terrible tragedy, the legal aspects surrounding it are numerous and multi-faceted. Two of the most fascinating pieces include 1) that a sovereign state attempted to bargain with an uncivilized terrorist group, and 2) the response of that same sovereign state to the terrorist acts. Realistically, Jordan had two options: wait like a sitting duck or attack, and without asking any permission it chose the latter. The question arises: how does a state legally deal with a group that is illegal in the first place?
September 11, 2001 is a day that changed every person’s
Vol. 37 Executive Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
On April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed applications against all nine nuclear-armed nations in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging violations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).[i] The RMI also filed suit against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court, which was tentatively dismissed on January 16, 2015.[ii] Despite this dismissal, it still remains to be seen what will happen in the ICJ.
The RMI has firsthand knowledge of the effects of nuclear weapons. Between 1946 and 1954, the United States tested sixty-six nuclear bombs on RMI atolls.[iii] The nuclear tests have had both immediate and long-lasting consequences for the Marshallese. The radiation affected every island in the Marshall Islands chain. In fact, the radiation from one test bomb alone was so great that it affected every continent in the world.[iv] The Marshallese suffered not only immediate physical ailments as a result of the radiation, but also long term health problems as they continued their tradition of living off of the land and ocean, not realizing or being informed that doing so subjected themselves to radiation.[v] Within a few years of the tests,
Sarah Jaward, Volume 36 Associate Editor, Volume 37 Online Content Editor
On July 2002, after ratification by 60 countries, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) went into effect. With that, the ICC became the first established, treaty-based, international criminal court aimed at holding accountable individuals who were responsible for perpetrating some of the most serious crimes against human rights. The ICC has dealt with most forms of atrocities including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. While there were 139 countries that signed the Rome Statute, some of its greatest support came from the African region, accounting for 34 of those signatories. Many of these leaders were motivated by the atrocities that resulted from the Rwandan genocide and South African apartheid.
Regardless of this, the ICC has been under a great deal of scrutiny recently as a growing number of African leaders have openly expressed their disappointment with the court. This disappointment stems from ICC’s exclusive focus on the region, as evidenced by the fact that only African-related issues have been referred and brought to the ICC. More specifically, all persons who have been brought to the Court are African, coming from Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic
Sarah Sessler, Volume 36 Associate Editor, Volume 37 Articles Editor
On July 17, 1998, one hundred and sixty states signed the Rome Statute, bringing about the creation of the International Criminal Court. The court was, and is, the first of its kind: treaty-based, autonomous, and intended to be permanent. The court was created to address complex and heinous international crimes, particularly genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. Since the ICC entered into force in 2002, the number of ratifying parties to the treaty has dropped to one hundred and twenty-two. This likely has much to do with the inescapable reality that the ICC’S first decade or so of life has been tumultuous and steeped in adversity.
Since its inception, the ICC has continually had its effectiveness called into question. The ICC was created solely with the above-mentioned crimes in mind, and as a result the Court’s jurisdiction is quite limited. Obedience to such limitations necessitates a set of concrete standards by which to evaluate potential cases. The ICC may only exercise jurisdiction in three scenarios: when the accused is a national of a state party (or of a state who has otherwise accepted such jurisdiction); when the
C. Elizabeth Bundy, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Exercising a claim of collective self-defense as enshrined in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, the United States is currently assisting Iraq in addressing armed attacks carried out by the Islamic State. As historically construed under the Charter, Article 51 represents an exception to Article 2(4)’s prohibition on the threat or use of force against any state and therefore clearly endorses the right of self-defense against sovereign nations. Two issues at stake in the current conflict present a challenge to the conventional understanding of this framework: U.S. operations are directed at a non-state actor, and the threats posed by that actor are not restricted to Iraqi territory but extend to Syria. Although the United States has long claimed that it is justified in encroaching on the territory of a state that is unwilling or unable to exercise a threat emanating from within,[i] the variance of international opinion as to this question suggests that a norm governing the right to self-defense against non-state actors has not yet crystalized.[ii] The question remains as to whether a norm justifying U.S. incursion may be in the process of developing, but greater specificity of that norm
Alex Gish, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), government-managed investment vehicles, have been growing rapidly in both numbers and assets in recent years[i] but continue to operate in lightly-regulated terrain. If the problem is left unchecked, the inherent risks of the SWF model can be exposed. Most SWFs lack transparency and have questionable fiduciary duty controls, causing an investee nation to be exposed to risks of unfair competition, corruption, and non-financially or non-economically motivated investments.[ii] The only international answer to these concerns thus far is the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) voluntary “best practices” list, better known as the Santiago Principles. Alas it is not clear they are being followed, even by the nations who signed it.[iii] To be clear, the record shows that thus far the concerns regarding SWFs are hypothetical.[iv] But that does not mean we should wait to act until dangers are apparent. This blog post considers the question of whether an international agreement is an appropriate measure to regulate SWFs and concludes that a multilateral treaty would be one way to ensure compliance with much-needed standards.
While there is no single definition of a sovereign wealth fund, it can be thought of as
Zhandos Kuderin, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
After the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, made a decision not to sign an association deal with the European Union in favor of a deal with Russia, the protests began in the capital, Kiev. The protests and the ensuing movement, known as “Euromaidan”, eventually succeeded in ousting the incumbent President after a Parliamentary vote.[i] The events led to some dramatic events involving the region of Crimea. Russia refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government in Ukraine and sent troops to Crimea. The Crimean regional parliament held a referendum on whether to join Russia.[ii] The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of such a move, even if there are still concerns about its fairness.[iii] Meanwhile, on March 18, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty of absorption of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.[iv] Within two months since the invasion of Crimea, Russia annexed Crimea.
It is clear that Russia’s actions and involvement in the events that tore Ukraine apart raise important questions about international law.[v] One of the less discussed questions is whether Ukraine had a legitimate recourse to self-defense against Russia. There is rarely a
Evan Nichols, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
On the night of June 30th, 1997, the last British governor of Hong Kong ordered the permanent lowering of the Union Jack over the city’s center of power.[i] With that seemingly small gesture, the UK transferred sovereignty over what was then the world’s 25th largest economy back to the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”).[ii] It was a process long in the making, and one that promised to have a far-reaching impact on the world geopolitical order. With this year’s mass outbreak of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, we are beginning to see one facet of this impact take shape.
While the normative implications of expanding democratic institutions in Hong Kong have justifiably been the subject of much debate, the present legal relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland is a creature of international contract. So this blog post asks, is China living up to its end of the bargain struck with the United Kingdom under which Hong Kong was freed from colonial rule? A preliminary analysis of the international agreement that governed this momentous transaction, in relation to Hong Kong’s subsequent experience under the aegis of Beijing, suggests that China, despite public
Katherine Lewis, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed almost 5,000 people, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting over 13,700 infections as of October 29, 2014.[i] As the WHO struggles to contain the epidemic, fear the disease will spread outside of West Africa has prompted a slew of countries to impose various regulatory measures in frantic attempts to prevent the disease from infiltrating their borders. Many have adopted the WHO’s recommendations for heightened security at airport customs;[ii] others have gone further and suspended visa applications from West African passport holders, effectively restricting travel to and from Ebola-affected countries.[iii] Here in the United States, several states have imposed mandatory 21-day quarantines on “high risk” international travelers, specifically on health care workers returning from volunteer stints in West African Ebola clinics.[iv]
While public health experts acknowledge a need for increased caution, they insist that draconian responses such as travel bans and forced quarantines amount to little more than fear mongering and will do nothing to prevent spread of the disease.[v] For example, a study of the public health response following the 2003 SARS outbreak showed that border entry and exit screening measures were ineffective in
Andrew Brown, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Switzerland consistently ranks near to if not at the top of global health indicators, and the alpine air and plentiful chocolate don’t tell the whole story; the relatively small central-European nation exhibits an innovative health care system that boasts a high quality of care coupled with near universal health insurance coverage.[i] The Swiss system assures such impressive coverage rates not through government-provided healthcare as in other prominent European nations[ii], but rather through a mandate that citizens purchase their own health insurance from a varied menu of plans, regulatory controls of insurance companies, and government purchasing subsidies for the poorest Swiss.[iii] The success of the Swiss system, at least in terms of population coverage, proves instructive to countries such as the United States that seek to increase population coverage but do not desire full government control of the healthcare system. Furthermore, the Swiss system is no historical accident; they enacted these sweeping federal reforms in response to rapidly increasing costs of both insurance and care in the mid-1990s combined with the resultant inability of citizens at the lower end of the income spectrum to purchase insurance.[iv] These problems seem immediately familiar to Americans
Francesca Rufin, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty aimed at “[stabilizing] greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” [i] It was signed and ratified by a majority of countries around the globe in the early to mid 1990s and entered into force on March 21, 1994. However, since then, U.N. negotiations have failed to produce effective action.[ii] Current efforts are being directed towards the 2015 conference in Paris. At the Paris conference, the 196 parties to the Convention will convene with the objective of achieving “a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change involving all the nations of the world.”[iii] In light of continuously failed U.N. negotiations, what is the likelihood of achieving this ambitious agreement? Unfortunately, unless developed nations are willing to provide significant support to developing nations, there will likely be no consensus borne out of the Paris conference.
The UNFCCC was established, in part, on the principle that governments should protect the climate system “on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”[iv]
Jacob Styburski, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The struggle to combat climate change has left our society well-attuned to the troubles of caribou, tundra, and polar bears—only a few of the resources we stand to lose as a result of global warming.[i] What have received relatively little attention, however, are the natural resources we stand to gain from climate change, as well as the international legal uncertainties that surround them. In the Arctic, the most contentious of these emerging resources is navigable water. Long considered unviable as commercial routes, the Northwest Passage and North See Route are likely to become increasingly profitable trade routes as climate change continues to erode the ice coverage that renders them impassible for the vast majority of the year.[ii] Along the North Sea Route, it is predicted that the number of navigable days[iii] will increase from 20-30 days in 2004 to 90-100 days in 2080.[iv] Moreover, current icebreaker technology, which can make passable waters with a sea to ice concentration of 75%, may actually open the route for up to 150 days per year by 2080.[v] The navigable days along the Canadian Artic Archipelago (“CAA”) are also expected to
Nicholas Ognibene, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The meteoric rise of Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq has brought Syria’s civil war to the forefront of media attention worldwide. Now in its fourth year, the Syrian Civil War has involved numerous actors and widespread human rights abuses perpetrated by multiple sides. Beginning in March 2011 as a series of protests against the corruption and human rights abuses of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, aggressive use of force by the government attempting to quell the unrest led to an escalation of protests and violence. By 2012 fighting had spread across the country, with a mix of secular, moderate opposition forces, Islamist jihadists, and Kurdish militias fighting the Assad regime and each other. Current estimates of the death toll exceed 140,000 and millions have fled Syria or been internally displaced.[i]
Throughout the conflict, multiple factions have perpetrated numerous human rights abuses. At least 27 intentional mass killings have occurred, several instances of chemical weapon use have been reported,[ii] and on an almost continuous basis, the government has indiscriminately shelled residential areas in an effort to suppress opposition.[iii] In the face of such widespread violations of human rights, the potential significance of
Elizabeth Grden, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The Syrian civil war has left at least 190,000 dead, multitudes more in foreign lands without homes, and a sovereign state with no clear path forward.[i] With the recent intervention of the United States and its allies, the conflict is accelerating and escalating, raising a persistently lingering question: when the conflict ends, what type of transitional justice will await, and how will it shape the future of Syria with whatever government emerges?
There are four possibilities for post-conflict mechanisms, each with varying degrees of domestic and international influence. First, a domestic court in Syria could try accused criminals for violations of civil law. Second, an “internationalized domestic court” could apply Syrian criminal law, allowing international actors to assist with the prosecutions. [ii] Another option that has been discussed is creating a regional court with multilateral representation from neighboring countries. Finally, the situation could be referred to the International Criminal Court by the United Nations Security Council. [iii] Experts believe that within the year, one of these options could be exercised.
The Syrian Penal Code is a deeply flawed collection of laws that punishes some
“crimes” too strictly, and others not at all. It lacks basic
Anna Mouw, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The Spratly Islands are scattered over approximately 160,000 square miles in the South China Sea and are claimed in whole or in part by six different countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and China.[i] In 2002, these countries, along with other related parties, signed a regional declaration to cease any provocative activity and maintain the status quo until these sovereignty issues could be resolved through peaceful negotiation. [ii] But on May 15, 2014, the Philippines released photos confirming an unprecedented move by the People’s Republic of China. [iii] In order to solidify its presence and legal claims, China dredged millions of tons of earth from the bottom of the South China Sea and transformed the South Johnson Reef into a brand new island.[iv]
When asked to justify this action, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying declared “China has indisputable sovereignty over [the Spratly] Islands including [Johnson] Reef and the contiguous waters.”[v] As aggressive as this statement seems, it actually downplays China’s current claim. In 1953, the new government published a map featuring the now infamous “nine-dashed-line,” which encompasses approximately 90% of the entire South China Sea.[vi] This line, which leaves only a
Luca Winer, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Even though the United States does not make any territorial claim to the Spratly Islands, it still has important legal and strategic interests in what plays out in the South China Sea.[i] The Spratly Islands, unprepossessing in and of themselves, are important in two primary ways: economically and geo-strategically. Economically, the islands provide fish resources as well as possible natural gas and oil extraction. [ii] Moreover, whichever nation controls the Islands also has the legal rights to whatever lies within the 200 nautical miles of “exclusive economic zone” surrounding them.[iii] Maintaining freedom of navigation through the South China Sea, especially through the choke points of the Straits and Malacca and Taiwan Strait, is a fundamental regional security requirement for not only the United States, but for any country with major economic and military interests in the Pacific.[iv] These include each of the six claimants[v] to the Islands. Unsurprisingly, every one of the six asserts claims under various principles of international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to bolster their conflicting claims of sovereignty to the region. The United States, the strongest Pacific power not staking its
Timothy Garcia, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. . .”[i]
In the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, a 2008 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decision suddenly took on tremendous significance. Six years ago, NATO refused Ukraine a path to membership due to German and French misgivings. The French and German fears likely arose in part from Moscow’s opposition to Ukrainian or Georgian membership in NATO.[ii] Since the recent 2014 annexation, NATO members have split in their analysis. France and Germany believe NATO would now be at war with Russia had they admitted Ukraine while the United States and several of the Eastern European nations argue that Ukraine’s membership in NATO would have deterred Russian aggression in the region.[iii] White this question highlights the issue and debate in Europe, it is far more important for its future implications for collective security in Europe than for its particular facts.
Thus far, the European Union (EU) has been content to keep NATO as “the transatlantic framework for strong collective defence.”[iv] However, only 22 of the 28
David Angel, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The European Central Bank’s (ECB) struggle to improve economic performance in the Eurozone demonstrates how divergent interests among European member states can inhibit cooperation and lead to ineffective policy. Post-crisis economic growth in the Eurozone has been sluggish relative to other major developed economies,[i] and many have called on the ECB to employ more aggressive, unorthodox monetary policies in an effort to break out of the slump.[ii] Specifically, many are encouraging the ECB to emulate other advanced economies and engage in large-scale asset purchases from Eurozone banks, in a maneuver typically referred to as “quantitative easing” (QE).[iii] QE is thought to have a number of beneficial impacts, like encouraging banks to make more loans to consumers and businesses with the money they earn from asset sales to the central bank.[iv] The ECB has indicated that it will engage in limited QE, purchasing asset-backed securities (packages of home, commercial, and other loans that are bundled and sold to investors) and as yet undefined bonds from Eurozone banks.[v] However some observers argue that confining QE purchases to asset-backed securities will be ineffective, as the ECB will simply not be buying enough assets from banks
Megan Pierce, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
As asserted by the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), “[i]ndigenous peoples are among the most excluded, marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of society. This has had a negative impact on their ability to determine the direction of their own societies, including in decision-making on matters that affect their rights and interests.”[i] Over the last several decades, an international system of legal rights and protections belonging to indigenous communities has grown and strengthened, culminating recently in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.[ii] Recognizing the significant and serious injustices suffered by indigenous communities around the globe[iii], international society, led by the UN, has begun to address the question of how to alleviate and reverse the negative consequences of these injustices, as well as protect the rights and autonomy of indigenous communities. After twenty years of deliberation between representatives of indigenous groups and states in which indigenous groups had an unprecedented influential voice, UNDRIP was affirmed with the support of 143 member states in 2007.[iv] The UNDRIP has emerged as the most recent and prominent document defining the rights of indigenous peoples, and the central principle
Melanie Capuano, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
The Islamic State (also known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has captured the world’s attention with its recent acts of brutality, including mass executions and videotaped beheadings.[i] Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State aims to establishing a caliphate, a united Islamic state under the legal code sharia.[ii] A recent CIA estimate puts the number of Islamic State fighters across Iraq and Syria at as many as 31,500.[iii] This figure, in conjunction with the vast territory now under the terror group’s control and the sizable funding available to the Islamic State makes them a powerful jihadist group that rivals Al Qaeda.[iv] It has become apparent to the White House that action must be taken in order to put a stop to the activities of the Islamic State. President Obama, who was elected in part because of the fervent opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, said in his recent speech to the nation, "I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are."[v] President Obama laid
Kelsey Vanoverloop, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Though reports show that the number of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico has diminished compared to this summer, the crisis is far from over. [i] According to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “[w]e continue to have much work to do to address this issue and our message continues to be clear- ‘our boarder is not open to illegal migration.’”[ii] Nevertheless, while these children may be breaking American law when they attempt to enter the country illegally, once they are inside US borders, the United States has a responsibility to ensure their safety and protect their rights under international law. The United States greatly contributed to the economic and political conditions in these countries[iii] and now we are dealing with the consequences in the form of a mass migration.[iv]
From October 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014, almost 63,000 unaccompanied children were caught at the U.S.-Mexico boarder, compared to almost 31,500 in the previous year during the same time.[v] Though some lawmakers blame polices like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)[vi] for the increase, the real reasons go much deeper. The majority of children arriving come from
Michael Garcia, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Much of the scholarship surrounding law and development has ignored legal aid in favor of an emphasis on more high profile institutions and issues. Issues such as the effectiveness of a “rule of law” approach,[i] the importance of legal reforms calculated to attract foreign investors,[ii] or supporting judicial independence from state government[iii] are no doubt necessary steps towards fostering legitimacy, transparency, and justice in developing countries. One could argue that it is a fundamental problem, however, when Western intellectual influence and investment in a developing country like Cambodia result in little more than a formalist legal system[iv] that no one outside of the entrenched political elites can understand or utilize. There is real value to the creation of an inclusive legal culture that the population in developing countries can trust, even if there are no easy answers as to how we get there.
Cambodia consistently ranks in the bottom fifth of countries in the world in corruption and rule of law measurements.[v] For the legal system to be legitimate in the eyes of Cambodians, there will need to be more than private sector and investment reforms promised by the ruling Cambodia People’s Party