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Rule of Law



Reference is made also to titles under "Material Posted on the UN Website" and "Selected material 2004 -"



Introduction – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)


“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,”


This quote from the Preamble of the UDHR draws on the experience of generations of oppressed peoples. The principal aim of the Declaration is “freedom, justice and peace in the world”. If one analyzes conflicts around the world, there is a common denominator. The root causes of the conflicts are: no democracy and no rule of law. The best way to achieve the aim expressed in the Declaration is to use every means possible to end this deficiency in the world community.



The United Nations



The General Assembly



Resolution A/RES/67/1 of 24 September 2012: Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels


In the so-called Summit resolution A/RES/60/1 adopted in September 2005Member States recommitted themselves to actively protect and promote all human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Special reference is made to paragraphs 11, 16, 21, 24 (b), 25 (a), 119 and 134



The Security Council


The Council has also engaged itself in this field. Reference can be made to a presidential statement, adopted by the Security Council on 22 June 2006, S/PRST/2006/28 on Strengthening international law: rule of law and maintenance of international peace and security:


“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which are indispensable foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.”



Security Council Reform and The Rule of Law



“Security Council Reform and the Rule of Law” Text of letter dated 22 November 2012 to the Permanent Representatives of the members of the United Nations Security Council. The address referred to in the letter is available here


"Security Council Reform: Rule of Law More Important Than Additional Members" Letter dated 10 December 2008 to the Governments of the Members of the United Nations


See also: Addressing Impunity: How United are the Nations? Address at the Stockholm Criminology Symposium plenary session Nations United Against the Victimization of Mankind held on 23 June 2009



United Nations Secretariat



United Nations and the Rule of Law


Legal Technical Assistance


Audiovisual Library of International Law



The Need for the Rule of Law in International Affairs. Reflections on Dag Hammarskjöld’s address at Oxford University on 30 May 1961, “The International Civil Service in Law and in Fact”. Lecture delivered at Uppsala on 18 September 2009 at a Commemorative Event organised by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation on the 48th Anniversary of Dag Hammarskjöld’s Death.



Former Heads of State and Government


The InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government


See the Final Communiqué from the 26th Annual Plenary Session of the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government, held in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25-27 June 2008, addressing Present State of the World, Restoring International Law, and Managing International Financial Markets



At this Session the InterAction Council also endorsed the Chairman’s Report on the High-level Expert Group Meeting on Restoring International Law: Legal, Political and Human Dimensions, held in Hamburg, Germany, on 19 June 2008



There are also translations of the Communiqué into Arabic and Spanish at the Council’s webpage.



The Madrid Club


The Madrid Agenda Against Terrorism, adopted on 11 March 2005


“Any successful strategy for dealing with terrorism requires terrorists to be isolated. Consequently, the preference must be to treat terrorism as criminal acts to be handled through existing systems of law enforcement and with full respect for human rights and the rule of law.”



Rule of Law - A guide for politicians


Rule of Law – A guide for politicians. A Guide elaborated under the auspices of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Lund University, Sweden, and the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL), the Netherlands


Presentation of the Guide to the 127th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on 24 October 2012 in the city of Québec, Canada


     Link to the Audiovisual Presentation


     Text of the Audiovisual Presentation




Definition of the Rule of Law


There is no precise definition of the rule of law. The concept is also not so easily translated into other languages. In French one would for example speak of "état de droit" or "prééminence du droit" and in German of "Rechtsstaat".


The meaning of the rule of law can also vary between legal systems and traditions. Basically, what it is all about is to create a system where the citizens and those who reside in a country are protected from arbitrary and abusive exercise of power by the different branches of government.


Some argue, as I do, that a true system under the rule of law can exist only in a democracy in which international human rights standards are respected. Others may take a different view. This is often expressed as a difference between a "thick" and a "thin" definition of the concept of the rule of law.


There are many writings on this topic. The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law has established a Rule of Law Bibliography: Books, Articles and Chapters in Edited Volumes which is available here.



Legal Technical Assistance


See United Nations Secretariat above.


Reference is also made to:


The World Bank


The Council of Europe


The International Bar Association


The IBA Rule of Law Directory


The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law


The Europe and Eurasia program (CEELI)



The World Justice Project


The World Justice Project


The Rule of Law Index





One of the major obstacles to the establishment of the rule of law is corruption. An absolutely neccessary companion to legal technical assistance is an effort to root out this despicable phenomenon that affects everyone in a society but in particular the poor.


Message from the Secretary-General at the opening of the High-level Political Conference for the Purpose of Signing the United Nations Convention against  Corruption, held in  Merida, Mexico, 9 December 2003


An Appeal to Judges Worldwide  by  the Legal Counsel made at the High-level Political Conference for the Purpose of Signing the United Nations Convention against Corruption, held in Merida, Mexico, 9 December 2003



A Global Rule of Law Meeting Point


Creating a Global Rule of Law Meeting Point