By focusing on two recent developments, we argue that rule of law principles can provide a general yardstick to evaluate even these norm-building processes that occur beyond the state. First, in various discourses on governance in contexts beyond the state authors suggest to integrate non-state legal structures into the rule of law concept. By illustrating this in terms of constitutional law, law and development, and global governance, we ask for the criteria under which nonstate law can be seen as functional equivalent to state law from a rule of law perspective. And second, there is an increasing tendency in contexts “beyond the state” to use experiences subsumed under the rule of law as a normative yardstick to evaluate informal processes of legal regulation. Distanced from its origin as a principle of state law, the rule of law functions here as a general standard for legitimate and effective rule-making.