The prioritisation of rule of law support from a peacebuilding perspective

Armed conflicts are increasingly interpreted as products of the breakdown of the rule of law. In turn, weak rule of law institutions are understood as a major challenge to early post-conflict reconstruction and long-term conflict prevention. Considered essential for the maintenance of peaceful social relations, rule of law reform has thus become a priority in peacebuilding activities in the periphery. Yet enforcing a liberal legal framework in war-torn countries has had mixed success at best, with reforms encountering severe difficulties in gaining the necessary legitimacy within disrupted communities to function authoritatively. This policy brief explores the process of the prioritisation of the rule of law, presenting the assumptions that favour its application and the typical reforms implemented in the context of peacebuilding initiatives. In addition to discussing the current challenges to the modus operandi of external interventions, it makes concrete proposals for potential improvements.