Wilson Center Experts

Stephen Humphreys


Affiliation:
Lecturer in Law, London School of Economics

Stephen Humphreys holds a PhD in law from the University of Cambridge and a Masters in comparative and international law from SOAS, University of London. Prior to joining the LSE in 2009, he was Research Director at the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva, where his research focused on environmental law and on privacy and surveillance. He previously acted as publications director for the Open Society Justice Initiative in New York, and before that oversaw a project monitoring minority rights and discrimination in ten EU accession countries for the Open Society Institute in Budapest. He conducted research on climate change and the Kyoto mechanisms with ENDA Tiers Monde in Dakar, Senegal.

His latest book, Theatre of the Rule of Law, presents the first sustained critique of global rule of law promotion - an expansive industry at the heart of international development, post-conflict reconstruction and security policy today. While successful in articulating and disseminating an effective global public policy, rule of law promotion has largely failed in its stated objectives of raising countries out of poverty and taming violent conflict. Furthermore, in its execution, this work deviates sharply from 'the rule of law' as commonly conceived. To explain this, Stephen Humphreys draws on the history of the rule of law as a concept, examples of legal export during colonial times, and a spectrum of contemporary interventions by development agencies and international organizations. Rule of law promotion is shown to be a kind of theater, the staging of a morality tale about the good life, intended for edification and emulation, but blind to its own internal contradictions.

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