Chapter 2: Legal Cartography and Comparative Law
Per Bergling I. INTRODUCTION Diagnoses of entire legal systems are in great demand for purposes of programming aid, facilitating membership of international organisations, and rebuilding institutions shattered by war and crisis. Put simply, a range of promoters of legal and judicial reforms need to know that the problems discussed really exist and that proposed remedies will be effective in addressing them. However, most strategies and methods for diagnosing systems so far have produced either fragmented or flawed descriptions. This chapter provides an account of some of the most important methodological considerations for the articulation of better strategies, and discusses three recent efforts to map entire legal systems: ‘An Introduction to the Vietnamese Legal System’; ‘UNMIBH Judicial System Assessment Programme’; and ‘Comprehensive Legal System Needs Assessment for Vietnam’. II. OUR NEED TO KNOW As any cartographer or physician would certify, a credible attempt at mapping or diagnosing a hitherto new or little understood body requires a systematic approach or methodology. This basic assumption must be considered valid also for the mapping of legal systems or cultures. Indeed, such methodologies are currently in great demand: Development agencies need them to underpin legal reform and rule of law programmes, peace-builders need them to guide the rebuilding of destroyed and disoriented judiciaries, and international organisations such as the EU and the Council of Europe need them to determine whether countries are ready for membership. While international organisations, developing agencies, and their experts have experimented with various assessment methodologies almost as long as they have...
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