The International Drivers of Legal Reform: a Critical Assessment of the Experiences in Southeast Asia and Latin America – University of Copenhagen

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30 November 2015

The International Drivers of Legal Reform: a Critical Assessment of the Experiences in Southeast Asia and Latin America

Yi Shin Tang, Assistant Professor of International Economic Law at the Centre for European Studies in Economic Law (CESEL), has presented a new paper at the 5th  Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law (AsianSIL), in Bangkok (Thailand).

In the paper, entitled “The International Drivers of Legal Reform: a Critical Assessment of the Experiences in Southeast Asia and Latin America,” the author provides an analysis of the role of international institutions in the promotion of legal reforms across developing countries. For this purpose, the paper identifies the evolving role of international institutions according to three main phases. First, a stage where they played a minimal role in comparison with unilateral initiatives, mostly represented by projects led by the United States. In the second stage, there is the eventual rise of multilateralism, mainly under the flagship of an activist World Bank and the use of international institutions as a method for achieving both legitimacy and compliance in the process of securing more effective reforms. Finally, in the third and current stage, international institutions adjust their role towards a soft-based approach, mostly focused on best practices and guidelines such as the World Bank’s Doing Business reports, under the assumption that private investments are the crucial drivers of successful legal reforms. The paper further discusses this trend by examining the current influence of the Doing Business approach on reform initiatives carried out in two regions: Southeast Asia and Latin America.