The Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Settings: The Empirical Record
Once a civil war ends, we assume that people have the opportunity to make a fresh start and establish rule of law. This article tests this assumption, and examines whether countries are successful in establishing rule of law after termination of violence. Their findings show that there is not a statistically significant improvement towards rule of law after the cessation of conflict.
The authors construct a data set of 47 civil war cases that ended between 1970 and 1999. They include less cases than similar studies in the literature due to lack of data for their main variables. They measure a country-specific variable, i.e. rule of law, and that is why their unit of observation is the country rather than civil war cases. The authors argue that the end of fighting is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for reconstitution of rule of law.
The authors measure their main variable by focusing on three clusters of variables that are related to rule of law. First, they gather data about protection of political and civil liberties to measure rule of law in social space. Second, they gather data about constraints on executive power to measure rule of law in political space. Third, they gather data about integrity and protection of property rights to measure rule of law in economic space. They also include two other rule of law related measures from the World Bank: The World Bank’s corruption control measure and the World Bank’s rule-of-law index.
They find that civil war termination has a modest effect on rule of law and the effect is not immediate but in the medium run. In cases where civil war termination has statistically significant effect on rule of law, the effect is modest. In their analysis the authors examine cases in three episodes: pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict. Their findings show that there is not a sharp difference across periods of conflict. They also show that in some cases where we observe improvement in rule of law scores in post-conflict period actually remain still low. Gains are substantively modest. Improvements, in fact, should be regarded as reversion to pre-conflict levels. Their analysis show that only executive constraints measures show a consistent improvement. Any other improvement in other variables are fragile and not sustained through a 10-year post-conflict period.