Local Actors in Donor-Funded Rule of Law Assistance in Indonesia: Owners, Partners, Agents?
Bosch, Anna B.
MetadataShow full item record
University of Washington Abstract Local Actors in Donor-Funded Rule of Law Assistance in Indonesia: Owners, Partners, Agents? Anna B. Bosch Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Veronica L. Taylor Professor of Law An overriding premise of development assistance is that it cannot succeed without an effective partnership between international and local actors. Meta-level regulatory instruments directed at the aid industry reflect this (e.g., Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness), and issue a further challenge, namely the aspiration of ‘local ownership’ of the donor-assisted aid. Emphasis on these and related norms are carried forward from development aid discourse into the realm of Rule of Law (RoL) assistance, broadly conceived here as donor-assisted aid directed at laws, legal institutions and/or capacity-building in support of the legal sector – also referred to as ‘justice sector reforms,’ ‘legal technical assistance’ and ‘rule of law promotion.’ The relevance of partnership and local ownership are arguably amplified in RoL assistance because laws and rules governing societal behavior – whether formal or informal – are particularly embedded in local settings. Despite overall agreement on the importance of these principles, RoL assistance literature has long critiqued the lack of local ownership over donor-assisted legal reforms (e.g., the use of ‘standardized tool kits’ for reform), and the many resulting unintended consequences that flow from them. The importance of local-international relationship dynamics and their ability to shape aid outcomes has been studied in development, generally, but not in the field of RoL assistance. This study has thus sought to contribute to a gap in understanding of the dynamics of the design and implementation of RoL assistance on the ground, by analyzing empirical data about how all the local actors who are engaged in these interventions view the process and outcomes of their legal reform projects. Based on interviews with local actors working at the site of RoL assistance delivery, as well as four case study RoL projects and accompanying documentation, this study analyzed the meanings of ownership and partnership in theory and in practice, and found that definitions at the international level remain abstracted from reality. And yet, local actors – who have not yet had a consolidated voice in the literature – assign real meanings to these principles, and strive to achieve them as part of their professional practice. Using insights and framing from principal-agent theory, critical development theory and socio-legal theory, this study shows that local actors are hampered in their pursuit of local ownership and partnership by structural constraints placed upon them by a system in place to deliver RoL assistance that prioritizes Western ideas and players. This is true even though local actors are best positioned to understand the environments in which they work, and shape the direction and outcomes of the assistance. This study makes the normative argument that greater focus by RoL assistance donors on local ownership and partnership principles – as understood by local actors and contained herein – has the potential to lead to more appropriately tailored RoL assistance, and greater local ownership over the reforms they support.
- Law