A Building Block Approach to Law & Development: Experimentalism and the Messy Middle of Public Law

22 November 2016 - 11:30am to 12:45pm
British Institute of International and Comparative Law
British Institute of International and Comparative Law
17 Russell Square Charles Clore House
WC1B 5JP London
United Kingdom

This presentation will describe efforts since June 2011, to spearhead a new law and development initiative at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) (a part of Canada’s official development assistance). In a period marked by a decline in Canada’s historically strong voice on international rule of law issues, those efforts have supported over a dozen multi-year research projects on public law and accountability, led by local university and civil society researchers in fifteen Latin American and African countries.

In presenting key findings from IDRC research, two underpinning themes and approaches will be explored. First, the talk will describe the main ‘building blocks’ used to develop the initiative, focusing on three main elements. First, in launching the initiative, larger, conceptual debates about promoting the rule of law were deliberately parked at the door. That approach can in retrospect be situated within recent international development and law and development trends, like problem-focused, experimentalist approaches; renewed focuses on institutions; and legal empowerment discourses.

Second, it will explain the approach taken to public law and accountability, and how it draws inspiration on basic Canadian jurisprudence regarding for instance, administrative law’s role in guaranteeing human rights and the democratic rule of law. That approach will be be situated within a larger transnational dialogue on the limits of public power; a dialogue that now extends to countries in the Global South, which are increasingly sites of constitutional and judicial innovation.


Adrian Di Giovanni is currently a Senior Program Specialist in Law & Development, International Development Research Centre, Canada. Prior to that, Adrian worked in the Human Rights Law Section of Canada’s Department of Justice and he spent three years at the World Bank Legal Vice-Presidency. He has been a visiting academic at the University of Ottawa where he taught courses on law and development.


Attendance at this event is by invitation only. 

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