But, What Is The Rule of Law?

I still cannot fully articulate what it is for the world at large.  I know that I understand the Rule of Law to be what I identify as core principles endemic in my education, philosophy, culture and world view.

However, when I worked in the Soviet Union, despite my rejection of what I found lacking or horribly disappointing in the USSR’s understanding of what was the “rule of law” for them, not to mention the miserable record of their own citizens’ human and other rights, there were international standards that the Soviets maintained, so that if you were involved in a commercial transaction with the USSR -like I was-, you could count on the Soviets to adhere to certain “international” norms.  There was a “rule of law” of a certain kind.

I still believe those involved in international development work in the “rule of law” field cannot quite come to terms with what they actually mean by “rule of law”.  During the “first generation” of international development specialists who did work on “rule of law” issues, the emphasis was on foreign assistance on commercial aspects of the law, because, for example, the USSR and Warsaw Pact countries did not know how to negotiate commercial/international trade transactions.  The “second generation” of international development specialists thought they had a better understanding of the “rule of law”, but, in reality, they were looking at things through their own prisms.  “Rule of Law” is not just criminal justice issues, nor the “mot-du-jour”:  anti-corruption.  More on this later…

So, I share with you Louise Arbour’s speech on the “rule of law”.

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