Cover image for Peace Without Justice: Obstacles to Building the Rule of Law in El Salvador By Margaret Popkin

Peace Without Justice

Obstacles to Building the Rule of Law in El Salvador

Margaret Popkin

BUY

$35.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-01998-7

304 pages
6" × 9"
2000

Peace Without Justice

Obstacles to Building the Rule of Law in El Salvador

Margaret Popkin

“This is a fascinating book. It is an excellent study of judicial reform and the transition to democracy in El Salvador. Popkin shows in convincing fashion the enormous difficulties involved in attempting to reform El Salvador’s judiciary. In the process, she often makes helpful comparisons to Argentina, Chile, and Haiti. The book makes a very significant contribution to the extensive literature on the protection of human rights in Latin America, as well as on judicial reform and judicial independence. But it goes well beyond most human rights literature because of its focus on structural aspects of El Salvador’s legal system. It should therefore appeal to students of law as well as political science, history, and international relations.”

 

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Popkin analyzes the role of international actors, notably the United States and the United Nations, and the contributions and limitations of international assistance in efforts to establish accountability and reform the justice system in El Salvador. The author discusses the essential role of civil society in attempts to establish accountability and an effective justice system for all, and looks at the reasons for and the consequences of the limited role played by Salvadorean civil society. She also addresses the challenges facing democratic reform efforts in the context of a postwar crime wave.

Peace Without Justice grew out of Margaret Popkin’s extensive experience working as a human rights advocate in El Salvador during the armed conflict and interviews with a variety of Salvadorans and others involved in justice reform and in negotiating and implementing the peace accords.

“This is a fascinating book. It is an excellent study of judicial reform and the transition to democracy in El Salvador. Popkin shows in convincing fashion the enormous difficulties involved in attempting to reform El Salvador’s judiciary. In the process, she often makes helpful comparisons to Argentina, Chile, and Haiti. The book makes a very significant contribution to the extensive literature on the protection of human rights in Latin America, as well as on judicial reform and judicial independence. But it goes well beyond most human rights literature because of its focus on structural aspects of El Salvador’s legal system. It should therefore appeal to students of law as well as political science, history, and international relations.”
“Margaret Popkin’s lucid examination of El Salvador aims to illuminate the lessons and pitfalls of international involvement in strengthening and constructing locally the rules of law, with an emphasis on sustainable development and peace. El Salvador is a good test case to explore such themes, and Popkin, an American lawyer and human-rights advocate who worked there for many years, is ideally placed to undertake this task. Popkin makes insightful comparisons with other Latin American countries such as Chile, Argentina and Guatemala, and her book will appeal to anyone interested in the challenges of building peace and securing justice in the twenty-first century.”
“But as Margaret Popkin convincingly argues in this book, attempts at democracy building are ultimately undermined and incomplete until the rule of law and its associated institutions are well established.

Popkin’s work is noteworthy for its depth of analysis of a single case, El Salvador.”
“Popkin offers a measured, thoughtful study, one rich in details and bibliographical annotation.”
“Popkin has captured in a single book an in-depth understanding of El Salvador’s legal culture, actors, and institutions and has rigorously documented El Salvador’s peace process and history of judicial reform. Moreover, Popkin’s work is a discerning analysis of the obstacles to building the rule of law in El Salvador. Popkin’s exacting review of Salvadoran institutions and legal reforms, as well as her more general recommendations, remain pertinent today and could prove invaluable to the development of future justice reform projects in El Salvador or in other developing nations.”

Margaret L. Popkin is Executive Director of the Due Process of Law Foundation and former Program Director for Africa and Latin America at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in Washington, D.C. She served as Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute of the Central American University in San Salvador (1985–92) and has worked as a consultant to the United Nations and to the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights (1992–93).

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