Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2010

Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law: Lessons from Colombia

Gabriel Marcella

November 2009

The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College


The 2009 Failed States Index identifies many nations as being in danger of becoming failed states—in fact, two-thirds of the world’s states are critical, borderline, or in danger of becoming just that. Failed states do not possess the necessary conditions to have truly sovereign governments that meet the needs of their populations. Colombia garnered a rating of 89 on the 2009 Failed States Index, just below that of Kyrgyzstan. It has experienced conflict for decades and as the author observed, was a “paradigm for a failing state” in that it was replete with terrorism, kidnapping, murder, corruption, and general lawlessness. But today it is much safer through the imposition of the Rule of Law. The author addresses the rule of law and its impact on Colombia.