The African Development Bank's legal department held a brainstorming session in Tunis on 22 June on the rule of law and the challenges it poses for economic development.
Entitled "Is the rule of law a condition for or the result of economic development? Rethinking the link between law and development," the session helped to deepen the knowledge base of the rule of law in development not only of the AfDB's practitioners of law, but also vice presidents and executive directors of the Bank.
Professor Erik Jensen, Co-Director of the Centre for Research on the Rule of Law at Stanford University led the session, which was chaired by the AfDB's legal counsel, Kalidou Gadio.
Through concrete examples, Professor Jensen demonstrated how some countries have succeeded in modernizing their legal systems, and become globalized economies. Addressing more than 50 senior AfDB staff, he talked about the rule of law in economic reforms and also touched on lessons from which the AfDB might draw to the benefit of its Regional Member Countries (RMCs).
He related the rule of law with political and economic development, explaining that that the rule of law is not a condition for development, growth and economic transformation.
Professor Jensen said: "Promoting the ROL is not necessarily a prerequisite for economic development, but rather a consequence." Drawing from his research and experiences in Asia, he further emphasised that several countries in that region, in spite of their authoritarian regimes, have experienced economic development. "Only after the conditions for economic development are satisfied, that the law must intervene to set the rules and procedures regulating the economy and society," he said.
A similar seminar was organized at Annual Meetings in Arusha, led by Professor David Wilkins, on the theme "Law and development: lessons for Africa from emerging economies." The approach advocated by Professor Wilkins was that "the promotion of rule of law is a necessary prerequisite for socioeconomic development."
The interactive presentation in Tunis also provided the Bank a wealth of relevant information, knowledge as well as the right orientation on the issue of law and development.
The legal department hopes to assess the results of the discussions and make recommendations to senior management on the lessons that the AfDB could draw from the perspective for the finalization of the Long Term Strategy. These recommendations will be based on the results of the seminars held in Tunis and Arusha.