Academic journal article Harvard International Review
Letter from the Editors
Over the two centuries of its existence, the United States Constitution has become firmly entrenched as a model of governance and has been exported far and wide across emerging democracies. The Symposium we humbly offer you for the summer, "Law of the Land: Grappling with Western Legal Systems," examines the intersection of Western legal systems with a global context of increasing dialogue and legal pluralism. Numerous questions arise when comparing legal norms of the West with those of Everywhere Else: What conflicts arise between traditional or indigenous judicial systems and the Western model? Can a state without the resources or political structure of the United States successfully implement a judicial system nevertheless built on American ideals? For states attempting to adapt their judicial systems to internationally accepted norms of justice, how can alternatives be reconciled? Our Symposium delves into these questions with an eye to gain a better understanding of how states both conceptualize and actualize justice, including how Western legal traditions may, for better or worse, influence these processes.
David Pimental kicks off our Symposium by examining the viability of legal pluralism given the "continued relevance of customary law in today's world." Next, Ran Hirschl weighs in on the efficacy of hybrid legal systems that frequently converge on religious law in the "non-secular" world. Ronald Brand's "Exporting Legal Education" follows Hirschl's article. Based on his work with the University of Pittsburgh's Center for International Legal Education, Brand argues that the US legal education system can not only be a model for other nations' legal systems but also learn from them as well. In "Trying Times for Rwanda," Timothy Longman shifts our focus, challenging many Western scholars' hopes Rwanda's gacaca courts by examining the disappointing outcomes in dispensing justice and promoting reconciliation in the wake of the 1994 genocide. Finally, Ayelet Shachar concludes our Symposium by returning to the topic of "legal arrangements between secular and religious jurisdictions." She specifically examines how these hybrid systems affect women and issues of gender equality. …