What is the Rule of Law?
The rule of law is a system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:
- The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.
- The laws are clear, publicized, stable and just, are applied evenly, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
- The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient.
- Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
These four universal principles which comprise the WJP's notion of the rule of law are further developed in the nine factors of the WJP Rule of Law Index.
Why the Rule of Law Matters to Everyone
The rule of law is the underlying framework of rules and rights that make prosperous and fair societies possible. The rule of law is a system in which no one, including government, is above the law; where laws protect fundamental rights; and where justice is accessible to all.
To learn more about how the rule of law impacts the lives and work of all people, click here.
Limited Government Powers
In a society governed by the rule of law, the government and its officials and agents are subject to and held accountable under the law. Modern societies have developed systems of checks and...
Absence of Corruption
The absence of corruption - conventionally defined as the use of public power for private gain - is one of the hallmarks of a society governed by the rule of law, as corruption is a manifestation...
Order and Security
Human security is one of the defining aspects of any rule of law society. Protecting human security, mainly assuring the security of persons and property, is a fundamental function of the state....
Under the rule of law, fundamental rights must be effectively guaranteed. A system of positive law that fails to respect core human rights established under international law is at best “rule by...
Open government is essential to the rule of law. It involves engagement, access, participation, and collaboration between the government and its citizens, and plays a crucial role in the promotion...
Public enforcement of government regulations is pervasive in modern societies as a method to induce conduct. A critical feature of the rule of law is that such rules are upheld and properly...
In a rule of law society, ordinary people should be able to resolve their grievances and obtain remedies in conformity with fundamental rights through formal institutions of justice in a peaceful...
An effective criminal justice system is a key aspect of the rule of law, as it constitutes the natural mechanism to redress grievances and bring action against individuals for offenses against...
For many countries it is important to acknowledge the role played by traditional, or ‘informal’, systems of law — including traditional, tribal, and religious courts, as well as community-based...