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Rule of Law Initiative

The pursuit of the “rule of law” continues to engage citizens and governments both on a national and international level.  But while this term conveys different meanings depending on a country’s legal system and traditions, it covers a host of common concerns, such as good governance, property rights, human rights, public accountability, judicial independence, access to justice, transparency, global trade and the establishment of international legal norms. 

The Kennan Institute closely monitors rule of law developments in Russia, Ukraine, and other Eurasian countries. For example, The Kennan Institute, has conducted numerous conferences on the development of present-day Russian and Ukrainian legal institutions and practice, most notably in the areas of constitutional law, judicial reform, anti-corruption, foreign trade, and the emergence of civil society.  Resident scholars also have explored imperial and Soviet legal history to identify the continuities and disruptions in post-Soviet law. Since 1999, the Kennan Institute has hosted the Galina Starovoitova fellowship on human rights and conflict resolution.  Past recipients have covered such topics as freedom of information, environmental law, independent media, and freedom of speech. Finally, the Kennan Institute works with other Wilson Center programs to provide a comparative perspective on rule of law developments around the world. 

William Pomeranz heads up the Kennan Institute’s rule of law program.  His research interests include Russian legal history as well as current legal reforms in Russia and Ukraine.  He is the author of Law and the Russian State: Russia's Legal Evolution from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin (Bloomsbury, 2018), as well as numerous scholarly articles on the development of the rule of law in the post-Soviet space.