Dr. Catherine Kelly: Rule of Law in African Security Sectors and Societies

Dr. Catherine Kelly, Assistant Professor of Justice and Rule of Law at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (a Department of Defense institution located on the National Defense University in Washington, DC).  Dr. Kelly is a Washington University in St. Louis alumna (AB '06, Postdoctoral Fellow '14/15).

Drawing on her experiences as an academic and a practitioner, Dr. Kelly addresses the importance of rule of law for security sector governance and accountability in sub-Saharan Africa, using examples from multiple local and national contexts. The talk describes current criminal and civil justice challenges that relate to security governance in sub-Saharan Africa.  It also walks listeners through some contrasting (though not mutually exclusive) ways of understanding what the rule of law can mean in practice.  With evidence from recent interdisciplinary and applied research on rule of law and security sector governance, the talk analyzes the promises and challenges of thinking about the rule of law in two different ways: first, through "top-down" understandings, which often emphasize the primacy of state institutions and formal rules over the non-state and informal; and second, through "bottom-up," grassroots understandings of the rule of law as it is lived and practiced in relation to people’s everyday security challenges.