After decades of disappointing progress in building the rule of law in societies that suffer from poorly functioning legal systems, the development community has turned its attention to legal pluralism. Legal pluralism is a prominent feature in many development contexts, with both negative and positive implications for the rule of law. The negative questions revolve around whether or to what extent the presence of multiple coexisting legal forms hampers or detracts from efforts to build the rule of law. The positive questions revolve around whether alternative legal forms in situations of legal pluralism might satisfy rule of law functions that failing state legal systems are unable to provide. This essay explores these questions.
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