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Law, Governance, and Development




Admission Requirements

Similarly tagged 200-level and 300-level courses. Students that do not meet this prerequisite should contact the instructor regarding the required competencies before course allocation.

Please note there is an overlap in content with 100-level course Intro to Law, Society, and Development as offered in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.


About 125 states in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America are generally referred to as ‘developing’ or ‘non-western countries.’ This course addresses the formation and functioning of the legal systems of these countries, especially regarding questions of governance and development. It will examine the existence of plural legal orders within such countries, and the policies and practices of international donors for enhancing the rule of law, access to justice and human rights protection in the developing world.

Law and legal systems should regulate people’s security, economic advancement, social justice, and environmental protection, to name but a few goals of development. This raises some important socio-legal questions.

Course Objectives

  • To be able to explain the complicated relationship between law and development

  • To acquire insight into and critically reflect on the formal features of law & governance prevalent in many developing countries and the actual working of these formal systems

  • To develop a critical understanding of the prevailing conceptual framework in this field of study (rule of law, legal empowerment, legal pluralism, good governance, access to justice, etc.)

Mode of Instruction

Each week will consist of one plenary (interactive) lecture and one working seminar. Through seminar debate, presentations, blog posts, and coursework students are given the opportunity to present and defend their ideas within an academic setting and to take part in group projects.

Plenary lectures

  • 2-hour, 7 weeks


  • 2-hour, 7 weeks

  • Seminars and the required assignments provide the students the opportunity to apply the newly gained knowledge and train their academic skills.

Please note that two sessions will be re-scheduled in consultation with students & LUC on the first day of class, due to public holiday on 30 April and 10 May. To facilitate such rescheduling, students are expected to bring their personal diaries with scheduling details of their other courses to class.


Individual assignments
During this course, every student writes two individual papers of 1000 words each (excluding footnotes and bibliography) in response to the seminar questions for that particular week, as specified. Students are to hand in their papers to the lecturer via email at least 1.5 hours before the start of the Friday seminars.

Class participation: presentations, web-posts, seminar discussions
• For 4 out of the 7 plenary lectures, students are expected to write a web-post of between 300-500 words (to be handed no later than 24 hours prior to the lecture, i.e. Monday 5pm at the latest). These web-posts form part of the class participation assessment.
• The first part of the Friday seminar will be used to work together in groups on the topic. The second part will be used for plenary group presentations, followed by discussions. Students’ participation and performance during the seminars, and during the lectures – especially with regard to discussion of the literature – will be assessed.

Written examination (sit-down exam)
The written examination will consist of three questions focusing on the main concepts and theories discussed, and one essay question.

Assessment: Individual paper 1
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: As specified in syllabus

Assessment: Individual paper 2
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: As specified in syllabus

Assessment: In-class participation & 4 out of 7 weekly web-postings (300-500 words)
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7; web posts (4) 24 hrs before class, 17:00

Assessment: Written examination
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 8 (Friday at 3pm)


The literature for this course consists mostly of academic articles and a few policy papers, specified in the course syllabus. No hard copy course reader will be compiled.

The literature can be downloaded from the web or the e-library of Leiden University; students will need to retrieve and print the literature themselves as per the guidance provided on Blackboard. Any literature not available through the web or e-library will be made available by the course convenor at least one week in advance.

Students are expected to print the reading material and bring it to class with any notes or highlighting marked on it.

Contact Information

Michelle Parlevliet: mbpteaching@gmail.com

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction (8-14 April)
Lecture: Introduction to law, governance and development
Seminar: Considering the requirements of the rule of law and one child policy in China (guest lecturer Benjamin van Rooij, China Law Centre, UvA)

Week 2: Legal Pluralism I (15-21 April)
Lecture: historical development & relationship of local and statutory legal systems
Seminar: Regulating customary practices: protecting widows in Ghana and Namibia

Week 3: Legal Pluralism II (22-28 April)
Lecture: Interaction between international, national, and local ‘non-state’ legal systems
Seminar: Facilitating fair and respectful treatment of domestic workers in Gulf Countries
(Both by guest lecturer Antoinette Vlieger, UvA)

Week 4: Transitional Justice I (29 April – 5 May)
Lecture: Introduction to TJ & non-judicial responses for dealing with past human rights abuses
Seminar: Assessing the South African and East Timorese Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Week 5: Transitional Justice II (6-12 May)
Lecture: Judicial responses for addressing past human rights violations: ad hoc tribunals & ICC
Seminar: Examining developments at the ICC (re complementarity, peace/justice, Kenya/Libya)

Week 6: Rule of Law & Legal Empowerment I (13-19 May)
Lecture: International approaches to Rule of Law promotion, policy trends 1990-present
Seminar: Rule of Law promotion in practice (tbc)
(Both by guest lecturer Ronald Janse, UvA & Hague Institute for Internationalisation of Law)

Week 7: Rule of Law & Legal Empowerment II (20-26 May)
Lecture: Rights-based & conflict transformation-oriented approaches to bottom-up justice
Seminar: Designing an Access to Justice programme in Nepal for bilateral governmental donor agency

Week 8: Self-Study & Written Examination (27 May-2 June)

Preparation for first session

To prepare for the first lecture, please read the literature mentioned on blackboard.

NB: since students have to prepare a web-post for 4 out of 7 lectures, they can choose to do so already for the first lecture. See further guidance in syllabus, available in March 2013.