The ABA Rule of Law Initiative Celebrating 25 Years of Global Initiatives

Relying on extensive reports, program documentation, and interviews with important actors in the rule of law movement, this article will explore how one key player in the international-development field—the ABA—has furthered rule of law values through its global programs. The first half of the article surveys the ABA’s involvement in rule of law initiatives. Part I explores the origins of the ABA’s work in this field, which date back to the organization’s founding and took shape after the demise of the former Soviet Union. Part II surveys the expansion of the ABA’s programs beyond Eastern Europe to other regions—a growth that ultimately led to the birth of the global initiative known as ABA ROLI. Part III then looks at ROLI’s latest work to show how the ABA’s programs have evolved in recent years.

The second half of the article draws lessons from this historical study. Part IV discusses three key pillars that the ABA’s experiences have revealed are fundamental in advancing the rule of law. Part V pays special attention to one key characteristic of the ABA’s work: the complementary roles that volunteers and professionals play in fostering the rule of law. Finally, Part VI forecasts the challenges and opportunities that ROLI will face in the years ahead.