chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
August 23, 2021

New ABA book captures the 30-year development of historic, ongoing rule of law initiative

CHICAGO, Aug. 23, 2021 — The history of what has been called a “rule of law Marshall Plan” is vividly captured in a remarkable new book filled with both historical detail and dozens of personal accounts. The 67-chapter story, “Building the Rule of Law: Firsthand Accounts from a Thirty-Year Global Campaign,” begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall and documents the beginnings, challenges and successes of more than 5,000 volunteers and the growth of this initiative into a global campaign that has, to date, reached more than 100 countries.

Participants in the American Bar Association rule of law efforts have included U.S. Supreme Court justices, dedicated staff and hundreds of volunteers who lived for a year or more without pay in countries seeking to build societies based on the rule of law.

Edited by two longtime ABA leaders, this volume contains the accounts and perspectives of those who conceived and directed the original Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI) project, dozens of volunteers with remarkable stories to tell, builders of a permanent rule of law institute in Prague (the CEELI Institute) and the lawyers and judges who led these efforts into a global project, now known as the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI). More than 45 fascinating accounts come from heroic volunteers who lived and worked in countries seeking to restructure their governments and legal systems.

These are initiatives that have changed the lives of countless people around the world — and the lives of many who served as volunteers. Former ABA President James R. Silkenat and former ABA International Law Section Chair Gerold W. Libby served as the book’s editors. They not only pulled together this remarkable history, complete with country-specific accounts and some 100 photographs, but also analyses that discuss the meaning of the term “the rule of law,” describe lessons learned from 30 years of work on the ground and consider what may lie ahead. This is a book that is as readable as it is timely.

What people have said:

“In my judgment, CEELI is the most effective voluntary legal assistance initiative in history.” former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

“I defy anyone to come up with an historical or current example of any foreign assistance program which delivers more genuine aid for the dollar than CEELI does.” — Ambassador Jack Scanlan, former U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia

“The scope of CEELI projects in the last few years is mind-boggling. … If you want to see the world and have a hand in projects that will help change the world, then you should definitely look at CEELI.” —"America’s Greatest Places to Work with a Law Degree”

“Their efforts to carry our national commitment to freedom and the proud traditions of our legal institutions to emerging democracies have been daring and creative.” Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Title:                      Building the Rule of Law: Firsthand Accounts from a Thirty-Year Global Campaign
James R. Silkenat, Gerold W. Libby
Publisher:             ABA Publishing/International Law Section
Pages:                   560
Product Code:       5210811
ISBN:                     9781641059282
Size:                      7x10
Binding:                Hardback and eBook
Price:                     $39.95

Editor’s note: Electronic review copies are available by sending an email to Francine Bennett-Beasley at [email protected]. If you publish a review of this book, please send tear sheets or a copy for our files to Francine Bennett-Beasley, ABA Publishing, 321 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.