Many scholars prefer a ‘thin’ conception of the rule of law, because of the analytical value of the concept. Nonetheless, ‘thick ‘ rule of law conceptions, which include substantive elements such as fundamental rights and liberties, continue to be popular. This chapter argues that the preference for a thin or a thick conception of the rule of law depends on the purpose its users have in mind – as an analytical tool indicating a certain quality of a legal system or as a shorthand for a liberal legal state. The chapter moreover shows that the historical reasons given by scholars such as Joseph Raz for preferring a thin definition are unfounded. The concept of rule of law has always developed in combination with ideas about fundamental rights and liberties, not only in England, but also in France and Germany.
This chapter provides an overview of how in about 15 years the Indonesian Ombudsman has developed from an unknown commission into a respected national state body with representative offices in all provinces. Established in 2000, the Indonesian Ombudsman is one of the most successful institutions introduced after the transition from Suharto’s authoritarian rule to a democracy. Although it is still frequently portrayed as a ‘toothless tiger’ and has a limited scope of operation, the Ombudsman has attracted an increasing number of complainants and provided many of them with relief. To this end the institution uses a broad array of techniques, which it can adapt to the complaint at hand. On the basis of the case of Indonesia this chapter proposes a set of ideas about the functioning of ombudspersons in developing countries where democracy is problematic, prosperity limited, wealth unevenly divided, and the rule of law weak.