The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) engages in research, training, and teaching, and organizes intellectual and policy dialogues aimed at increasing public understanding of economic and political development. Founded in 2002, CDDRL has collaborated with scholars, policymakers, and practitioners around the world to advance collective knowledge about the linkages between democracy, sustainable economic development, human rights, and the rule of law. The center has hosted roughly three dozen conferences and workshops addressing issues of democracy, democracy promotion, economic development, natural resource management, governance, and the rule of law. Through its collaborative projects, CDDRL has published or helped to support the research for more than 15 books and many dozens of articles and book chapters, while also welcoming more than 50 visiting scholars from around the world. During the first five years of our annual Draper-Hills Summer Fellows Program, the Center has hosted 139 rising leaders from 62 countries in transition. And we have recently initiated a senior honor's program for Stanford undergraduates and developed a foundational course in democracy, development and the rule of law taught to more than 150 students every autumn.
The Center's research is grouped into four broad themes: democracy and good governance; economic and social development; the rule of law; and human rights and global justice.
Politically, we seek to understand the conditions, processes, and institutions that produce stable, high-quality democracy, with extensive freedom, a strong rule of law, and robust accountability of public officials (to both the public at large and other branches or agencies of government). The center supports research on transitions to democracy and the consolidation and deepening of democracy. Moreover, we examine how countries improve such other dimensions of democratic quality as human rights, political competition, participation, political equality, a vigorous civil society, and government responsiveness to citizens. The center's concern for democratic accountability, transparency, and rule of a law also generates a keen interest in the policies, institutions, and broader conditions for "good governance" and control of corruption.
To have a democratic state, a country must have a state. The center thus also addresses the most basic questions in political development: how can viable and effective states emerge and enhance their capacities, and how can states be reconstructed after violent conflict and state collapse?
In addressing economic development, our concern is to understand how wealth is created and distributed, so that poverty is reduced and human welfare is broadly and sustainably enhanced. Thus, the center seeks to identify and assess the policies and institutions that generate economic growth, attenuate poverty and inequality, enhance education and public health, and foster environmentally sustainable improvements in a country's physical and human capital.
The center's work also addresses the conditions for and challenges confronting the achievement of effective and independent legal institutions, which protect human rights and provide open and fair access to justice both within and across borders.
Finally, it engages the normative, conceptual, and policy issues surrounding the delineation and defense of human rights, the assurance of fair and decent global working conditions, and the achievement of more accountable global institutions.
A distinctive feature of our work is to examine interactions among the processes of development and change in state strength, governmental forms, and law, economy, and society. For example, how does economic development influence the prospects for democratic transition and the quality of democracy? How do different types of regimes vary in their economic performance and their success in reducing poverty? Is there any common or necessary sequence that orders the emergence of democracy, economic development, the rule of law, human rights, and effective states, or are these goals achieved incrementally and interactively, in diverse ways? What features of the state, economy, and society are most associated with the effective protection, and extension, of human rights? Put more broadly, what conditions and factors bring about just, democratic, stable, and prosperous societies?
The center approaches these questions with the conviction that interdisciplinary breadth is essential to making intellectual and practical headway. CDDRL scholars pursue these questions from the disciplines of political science, economics, law, sociology, anthropology, communication, education, and history. While our primary focus is on understanding these dynamics in their contemporary manifestation, the center also supports historical research examining state formation, institutional development, and the emergence of legal orders, democracy, and economic development in earlier historical periods. And we seek to engage and partner with engineering, technical, and scientific disciplines to understand how information technology is being used to enhance citizen participation, democratic accountability, human rights, social empowerment, environmental protection, and other dimensions of political, economic, and social development.
The center has global reach. Its research explores literally every region of the world, both through wide-ranging comparative studies and through conferences and research programs that focus on specific regions, such as Greater China, the former Soviet bloc, Latin America, and the Arab world. Since its founding in 2002, CDDRL resident scholars, visiting scholars, pre- and post-doctoral fellows, summer fellows, speakers, and seminar participants have come from across the globe to Stanford. The global scope of the center extends to its intellectual interests, which include how regional and global institutions and processes-including the diffusion of cultural norms and standards and various patterns of global economic and social integration-affect democracy, human rights, rule of law, inequality, and economic development.
Bridging Scholarship and Practice
Finally, and fundamentally, CDDRL bridges the worlds of scholarship, policy-making, and practice. CDDRL events have involved prominent current and former policy officials from the United States and other countries. Several CDDRL scholars have served in government (or are now on leave serving). Many of our speakers and summer fellows have been leaders or innovators in politics, civil society, and private enterprise in their countries. CDDRL endeavors to engage, learn from, and when appropriate advise governmental and nongovernmental leaders and organizations around the world that are working to foster democracy, broad-based development, human rights, and the rule of law.