Rule of Law Impact Lab

Our Mission

The Stanford Law School Rule of Law Impact Lab studies and deploys legal tools–litigation and legal research, documentation, and advocacy–in close collaboration with local practitioners and academics to combat democratic decline around the world, including in the U.S.

trying to trample a group of men and women

Confronting a Global Challenge

Recent years have witnessed a stark rise in authoritarianism around the world, eroding decades’ worth of post-Cold War democratic advances. In the absence of effective countervailing forces, the associated evisceration of the rule of law will only deepen and spread over time. The sheer scale of the problem–as well as significant collaboration amongst autocrats around the world to sustain their repressive agendas—illustrates the significant need for global leadership to address democratic backslide.

Our Focus

  • Developing and deploying legal strategies (litigation and legal research, documentation, and advocacy) in collaboration with local legal practitioners and academics to combat democratic decline.
  • Engaging students in experiential learning on using legal tools to combat democratic decline.
  • Disseminating and sharing knowledge on the subject of how best to combat democratic decline in varying contexts.


Democracy is in decline around the world. Governments elected to power with populist agendas are increasingly adopting authoritarian tactics. There are striking similarities in the methods deployed to subvert democracy. These methods typically include compromising electoral integrity, undermining judicial independence, and quashing free expression and dissent. The Stanford Law School Rule of Law Impact Lab studies and uses legal tools to counter core threats to democracy and to promote democratic renewal worldwide.

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Rule of Law in Mexico

Mexico began its transition to democracy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, after decades of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The path to democracy has been [...]

Rule of Law in Guatemala

Guatemala has a checkered past with respect to democracy. High level-corruption has remained rampant. Judicial and prosecutorial independence have remained under attack, especially after the 2019 closure of the United [...]

Rule of Law in Senegal

Senegal is often described as one of Africa’s most stable democracies. However, recent developments have raised concerns about democratic decline there. Although the Senegalese constitution sets a two-term limit on [...]

Rule of Law in Peru

After the fall of Alberto Fujimori’s authoritarian government in 2000, Peru embarked on a transition to democracy followed by political instability. In 2022, President Pedro Castillo, was impeached and removed [...]

Rule of Law in the United States

Democracy is widely regarded as being under threat in the United States. Deepening political polarization and the practice of partisan gerrymandering has fueled distrust in electoral processes. Partisan polarization has also [...]

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