This course is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students in Law, Social Sciences (anthropology, sociology of development, public administration), and Humanities (history, area studies, arts). Non-law students should be willing to familiarise themselves with the outlines of law, whereas law students should be willing to engage in subjects beyond the rules of black letter law. For this course, a sufficient command of English (IELTS 6.5 or higher) is required.
Serious efforts to meet global challenges will sooner or later encounter the limits of law in developing countries. About 125 states in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are generally referred to as ‘developing’ or sometimes ‘non-western’ countries or ‘the Global South’. This course addresses the formation and functioning of the legal systems of these countries, notably in their relation to development. At the interface between state and society, it should be the function of law and legal institutions to regulate people’s security, economic advancement, social justice and environmental protection, to mention just a few goals of development. This raises several important socio-legal questions. To what extent are developing countries’ legal systems able to implement standards set by international law, to provide access and remedies to justice-seekers, and to support good governance and the development of society at large? To understand the capacities of these systems to make laws, implement them, and adjudicate conflicts, we will have to know what they look like, whether they consist of legal transplants from the West, or perhaps are based on other conceptions of law like customary law, divine Islamic law, or other traditions? How does state law relate to ‘non-state law’? We also need to understand how legal systems operate in a heterogeneous and rapidly changing society. Economic, political and social problems have their impact on the effectiveness of legal and governance institutions. This begs the overarching question of this course. In as far as legal systems do not operate pro-poor, is there anything to be done about that? In other words, what is the scope for strengthening legal systems and promoting the rule of law and human rights in the developing world? This course addresses issues of access to justice for the common man and pays particular attention to different notions of justice at international, national and local arenas.
After successful completion of this course, students are able to:
Identify the interrelationships between law, governance, and development
Identify and compare the formal features of law and governance prevalent in many developing countries and the actual working of these formal systems
debate the prevailing conceptual frameworks in this field (rule of law, legal pluralism, (good) governance, access to justice, etc.)
explain the complicated relationship between law and development
evaluate the feasibility of external interventions aimed at making the systems more effective
The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.
Mode of instruction
Number of (2 hour) lectures: 2 × 2 hours for 6 weeks
Names of lecturers: Janine Ubink and guest lecturers
Required preparation by students: reading of two to three English academic articles before each session.
Two short reaction papers (20%)
Written exam (80%)
If the overall grade is lower than 5,5 the student can do a retake of the exam. Pass grades for examination components lapse at the end of the academic year if a student does not pass the course.
Submission procedures Not applicable
Areas to be tested within the exam The examination matter consists of the required reading for the course, additional lecture notes (mainly slides) as put on Brightspace, and the subject matter actually taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.
Obligatory course materials Literature:
Course information guide:
- Not applicable
- Reader will be available via Brightspace.
Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.
Coordinator: Janine Ubink
Work address: KOG, room t.b.a.
Contact information: via secretariat, firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7493
Institute: Meta Juridica
Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute
Room number secretary: KOG room B1.14
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9.00 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 16.00
Telephone number secretary: +31 (0) 527 7260