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Global Law and Plunder: The Dark Side of the Rule of Law
Bocconi School of Law Student-Edited Papers (2009)
  • Ugo Mattei
  • Marco de Morpurgo

The ‘rule of law’ has traditionally been conceived as an intrinsically positive and politically neutral ‘tool’, universally valid and capable of being ‘exported’ everywhere. This paper—which represents a synthetic exposition of the ideas expressed in Ugo Mattei and Laura Nader, Plunder: When the Rule of Law is Illegal (Blackwell Publishing, Oxford 2008)—asserts that such an ambiguous concept has a bright and a dark side, the latter being excluded from any public discussion. The rhetoric of the ‘rule of law’ has been used by Western powers in order to justify interventions (mainly) into the ‘developing’ world, that ultimately turned into practices of plunder, allowing the expansion of Western economic power over the ‘rest’, thus backing a claim that the rule of law has been used ‘illegally’. Intellectual myopia, ethnocentrism and imperial attitudes stand behind the conception of the rule of law that currently wraps international financial institutions’—today’s global legislators—reform projects in the ‘developing world’. The transformation of the concept of ‘law’ into that of a ‘technicality’, the globally dominant position enjoyed by U.S. law and the imperial attitude of today’s Western international corporate actors are some of the elements that show a pattern of continuity between colonialism and today’s neo-liberal policy.

  • Imperial Law,
  • Plunder,
  • Ugo Mattei,
  • Structural Adjustment Programmes,
  • Comprehensive Development Frameworks,
  • Law and Economics,
  • Neoliberalism,
  • Neocolonialism
Publication Date
Citation Information
Ugo Mattei & Marco de Morpurgo, Global Law and Plunder: The Dark Side of the Rule of Law, Bocconi Sch. L. Student-Ed. Papers, No. 2009-03/EN (2009), forthcoming in Law & Globalization (Bocconi Sch. L. Student-Ed. Papers ed., VDM Publishing Saarbrücken 2009).