Crime, law, and regime change

Joachim J. Savelsberg, Suzy McElrath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Complex reciprocal relationships between crime, law, and regime change are explored through a review of the literature. The first part of this article examines the stabilizing function of law for political regimes and the risks for regime stability associated with weakened rule of law and state crime. The literature on experiences from state socialist regimes prompts questions regarding the future of Western interventionist states, especially during periods of tightening government control. The second part examines crime and law during and after regime change. The focus is on (a) legal responses to past state crimes (or transitional justice), especially criminal trials, and effects of such responses, partly mediated by collective memories, on human rights and democracy records of new regimes and (b) societal crime rates after transitions to democracy and the role of law in response to rapid increases of crime in posttransition situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-279
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
StatePublished - Nov 3 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2014 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


  • Authoritarianism
  • Human rights crime
  • Regime change
  • Rule of law
  • State crime
  • Transitional justice


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