Deformalizing the rule of law: ethnographic explorations within the legal cooperation industry
Filippo Zerilli (University of Cagliari)
Paper short abstract:
Based on fieldwork conducted within EU projects of international legal cooperation this paper explores tensions and intersections between formality and informality in the field of rule of law capacity building programs.
Paper long abstract:
Since the end of the Cold War the world-hegemonic legal regime known as the rule of law has increasingly driven privatization, marketization and democratization programs, notably within the EU enlargement policy. However, the rule of law definition itself is controversial. And what mechanisms and ideologies secure or challenge its adoption in specific national, legal and socio-political contexts deserves closer inspection on the ground. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted within legal cooperation projects between EU old member states, new member states (e.g. Romania) and potential candidate countries (e.g. Kosovo), this paper explores how formality and informality operate and intersect in rule of law capacity building programs. On the one hand the paper recognizes the circular logics of monitoring and reporting under the audit regime established through EU 'soft law' tools specifically designed to assess progresses made by recently accessed and (potential) candidate countries. On the other hand it scrutinizes informal negotiations, social arrangements and personal assessments of international legal experts and advisors (the 'developers') and local state officials (the 'developing'), as emerged while implementing EU sponsored twinning projects in diverse fields of law. Both aspects, the drafting of official documents and reports and what remains hidden or unsaid about the projects' (dis-)functioning, disclose insights into a socio-legal space that is neither entirely domestic nor international, a vantage point to explore how the rule of law is locally experienced, conceptualized and produced by 'locals' and 'internationals', as they often name themselves.
Emerging economic futures: the intersections of informality and formality [Anthropology of Economy Network]