Approach of the Institute for the Rule of Law
The Institute for the Rule of Law is conducting a number of ongoing research projects, which enrich our arguments in the public debates, educational and academic activities of the Institute’s staff. This allows us to change the nature of the discussion: to give the participants (law makers, experts, decision makers) a research based information on actual situation in Russian law institutions, answering what is happening in the lives of the people whose activities is directly related to the rule of law – policemen, judges, tax officials, etc.
The primary projects of the Institute are focused on studying of criminal justice system and functioning of law enforcement organs and judicial authorities. We suppose, today it is the sphere of law enforcement that is the most problematic one, and the problems faced by the criminal justice system are some of the most actual ones.
All research of the Institute for the Rule of Law is based on analysis of the functioning of the law enforcement system. Not a single law or regulation codifies a detailed and unequivocal description of its enforcement. Therefore, we assume that along with the text of the law there exists an array of organizational limitations, professional routines, financial and administrative incentives that encourage or force the law enforcer (an organization or a person) to act upon this law one way or another, ignore or modify it throughout the enforcement process. Every our research project is aimed for understanding of law interpretation and practical issues of law enforcement in a specific organizational context. Simultaneously, we pay significant attention to analysis of large bodies legal institutions’ statistics that allow us to identify sharp patterns and biases in law enforcement activities – something that is not directly arises from the letter of the given law.
Most of the projects of the Institute are constructed in such a way that the end result can be used in practical activities, as well as the data are interesting from the academic point of view.
During five years history, the Institute for the rule of law has organized more than 20 successful projects. As a result of nine projects a monograph has been published, and one is being currently prepared. More than 10 academic articles have been published in leading Russian academic journals. Preliminary results are usually presented in an analytical report, i.e. a short monograph, and five such works have been published. More than 15 policy memos have contributed to the practical discussion. These memos eliminate concrete problems of functioning of the Russian law enforcement sphere and provide recommendations, based on research results and analysis of international experience. In 2013 a new preprint edition focused on law enforcement issues has been started. It presents academic results, analytical overviews and supplemental information in a concise manner. The regular Thursday column titled “Extra Jus” in well-known Russian newspaper “Vedomosti” is Institute’s key instrument of presenting research results to general public. Over 100 columns have been published during last four years. In addition, a new book collected more than fifty most interesting Extra Jus texts has been edited in March, 2014. Moreover, the Institute’s researchers regularly publish their columns and comments on such popular web platforms as Forbes.ru, Slon.ru, Polit.ru, Pravo.ru, InLiberty.ru, etc.
Recommendations, the Institute has produced, have often concurred with political decisions that were taken during key law enforcement reforms. It is impossible to precisely estimate Institute’s influence on certain decision-making mechanisms since the corresponding system is not transparent enough. But what is certain is that our research results and used in Russia as unique, available online source of empirical data and analytical conclusions on a number of topics.
All research of the Institute can be divided in a number of directions which overlap both with traditional spheres of interest of the Sociology of law and with primary themes of public debates that are currently taking place in Russia.