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The Complexity of Success: The U.S. Role in Russian Rule of Law Reform

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Abstract:

In the 1990s, the United States sought to promote the rule of law in many parts of the former Soviet Union and beyond, often with little success. Yet in 2001, Russia adopted a liberal new Criminal Procedure Code and introduced jury trials after nearly a decade of U.S. rule-of-law assistance that supported precisely these steps. How did U.S. policy contribute to this reform? Why did these reforms succeed while others failed?

In this new Carnegie Paper, Matthew J. Spence argues that Western assistance should focus on catalyzing domestic reform, a strategy that has received little attention to date. He argues that reform can be successful when two conditions are present: first, a policy entrepreneur who favors reform and enjoys some political space to make efforts reality; and second, a plan to implement reforms already part of the policy debate.