what is the most significant implication of rule of law
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What is the Rule of Law?
The four universal principles of the rule of law, how we measure it, and what it means for you.
The WJP is an independent, multidisciplinary organization working to advance the rule of law worldwide.
We engage advocates from across the globe and from multiple work disciplines to advance the rule of law.
What is the Rule of Law?
Home About Us Overview What is the Rule of Law?
The Four Universal Principles
The rule of law is a durable system of laws, institutions, norms, and community commitment that delivers:
The government as well as private actors are accountable under the law.
The law is clear, publicized, and stable and is applied evenly. It ensures human rights as well as property, contract, and procedural rights.
The processes by which the law is adopted, administered, adjudicated, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
Accessible and Impartial Justice
Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
These four universal principles constitute a working definition of the rule of law. They were developed in accordance with internationally accepted standards and norms, and were tested and refined in consultation with a wide variety of experts worldwide.
WJP Rule of Law Index
The four universal principles are further developed in the below factors of the annual World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index®, the world's leading source for original, independent data on the rule of law. The latest edition of the Index relies on surveys of more than 150,000 households and 3,600 legal practitioners and experts to measure how the rule of law is experienced and perceived worldwide. Our data provides current and reliable information to policy makers, civil society organizations, academics, citizens, businesses, and legal professionals, among others. Index findings have been cited by heads of state, chief justices, business leaders, and public officials, including media coverage in more than 190 countries worldwide.
Factors of the Rule of Law
The scores and rankings of the WJP Rule of Law Index are organized around eight primary factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice. Follow the links below to learn more about these factors and to see the latest scores for the 140 countries and jurisdictions included in the 2022 Index.
Constraints on Government Powers
Absence of Corruption
Order and Security
How the Rule of Law Matters
No matter who we are or where we live, the rule of law affects us all. It is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity, and peace—underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights. Research shows that rule of law correlates to higher economic growth, greater peace, less inequality, improved health outcomes, and more education.
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Rule of law
Rule of law
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Rule of Law" redirects here. For other uses, see Rule of Law (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Rule according to higher law.
A mosaic representing both the judicial and legislative aspects of law. The woman on the throne holds a sword to chastise the guilty and a palm branch to reward the meritorious. Glory surrounds her head and the aegis of Minerva signifies the armor of righteousness and wisdom.
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The rule of law is the political philosophy that all citizens and institutions within a country, state, or community are accountable to the same laws, including lawmakers and leaders. The rule of law is defined in the as "the mechanism, process, institution, practice, or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a nonarbitrary form of government, and more generally prevents the arbitrary use of power." The term is closely related to constitutionalism as well as and refers to a political situation, not to any specific legal rule.
Use of the phrase can be traced to 16th-century Britain. In the following century, the Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford employed it in arguing against the divine right of kings. John Locke wrote that freedom in society means being subject only to laws made by a legislature that apply to everyone, with a person being otherwise free from both governmental and private restrictions upon liberty. "The rule of law" was further popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. However, the principle, if not the phrase itself, was recognized by ancient thinkers. Aristotle wrote: "It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws."
The rule of law implies that every person is subject to the law, including persons who are lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and judges. In this sense, it stands in contrast to tyranny or oligarchy, where the rulers are held above the law.
Early history (to 15th century)
Several scholars have traced the concept of the rule of law back to 4th-century BC Athens, seeing it either as the dominant value of the Athenian democracy, or as one held in conjunction with the concept of popular sovereignty. However, these arguments have been challenged and the present consensus is that upholding an abstract concept of the rule of law was not "the predominant consideration" of the Athenian legal system.
Alfred the Great, Anglo-Saxon king in the 9th century, reformed the law of his kingdom and assembled a law code (the Doom Book) which he grounded on biblical commandments. He held that the same law had to be applied to all persons, whether rich or poor, friends or enemies. This was likely inspired by Leviticus 19:15: "You shall do no iniquity in judgment. You shall not favor the wretched and you shall not defer to the rich. In righteousness you are to judge your fellow."
In 1215, Archbishop Stephen Langton gathered the Barons in England and forced King John and future sovereigns and magistrates back under the rule of law, preserving ancient liberties by Magna Carta in return for exacting taxes. The influence of the Magna Carta ebbs and wanes across centuries. The weakening of royal power it demonstrated was based more upon the instability presented by contested claims than thoughtful adherence to constitutional principles. Until 1534, the Church excommunicated people for violations, but after a time the Magna Carta was simply replaced by other statutes considered binding upon the king to act according to "process of the law". Magna Carta's influence is considered greatly diminished by the reign of Henry VI, after the Wars of the Roses. The ideas contained in the Magna Carta are widely considered to have influenced the United States Constitution.
In 1481, during the reign of Ferdinand II of Aragon, the was approved by the General Court of Catalonia, establishing the submission of royal power (included its officers) to the laws of the Principality of Catalonia.
The first known use of this English phrase occurred around 1500. Another early example of the phrase "rule of law" is found in a petition to James I of England in 1610, from the House of Commons:
Amongst many other points of happiness and freedom which your majesty's subjects of this kingdom have enjoyed under your royal progenitors, kings and queens of this realm, there is none which they have accounted more dear and precious than this, to be guided and governed by the certain which giveth both to the head and members that which of right belongeth to them, and not by any uncertain or arbitrary form of government ...
Rule of law
rule of law, the mechanism, process, institution, practice, or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a nonarbitrary form of government, and more generally prevents the arbitrary use of power. Arbitrariness is typical of various forms of despotism, absolutism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism. Despotic governments include even highly institutionalized forms of rule in which the entity at the apex of the power structure (such as a king, a junta, or a party committee) is capable of acting without the constraint of law when it wishes to do so. Ideas about the rule of law have been
rule of law
Written by Naomi Choi
Fact-checked by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
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Montesquieu See all media Related Topics: law
See all related content →rule of law, the mechanism, process, institution, practice, or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a nonarbitrary form of government, and more generally prevents the arbitrary use of power. Arbitrariness is typical of various forms of despotism, absolutism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism. Despotic governments include even highly institutionalized forms of rule in which the entity at the apex of the power structure (such as a king, a junta, or a party committee) is capable of acting without the constraint of law when it wishes to do so.
Ideas about the rule of law have been central to political and legal thought since at least the 4th century BCE, when Aristotle distinguished “the rule of law” from “that of any individual.” In the 18th century the French political philosopher Montesquieu elaborated a doctrine of the rule of law that contrasted the legitimate authority of monarchs with the caprice of despots. It has since profoundly influenced Western liberal thought.
In general, the rule of law implies that the creation of laws, their enforcement, and the relationships among legal rules are themselves legally regulated, so that no one—including the most highly placed official—is above the law. The legal constraint on rulers means that the government is subject to existing laws as much as its citizens are. Thus, a closely related notion is the idea of equality before the law, which holds that no “legal” person shall enjoy privileges that are not extended to all and that no person shall be immune from legal sanctions. In addition, the application and adjudication of legal rules by various governing officials are to be impartial and consistent across equivalent cases, made blindly without taking into consideration the class, status, or relative power among disputants. In order for those ideas to have any real purchase, moreover, there should be in place some legal apparatus for compelling officials to submit to the law.
Not only does the rule of law entail such basic requirements about how the law should be enacted in society, it also implies certain qualities about the characteristics and content of the laws themselves. In particular, laws should be open and clear, general in form, universal in application, and knowable to all. Moreover, legal requirements must be such that people are able to be guided by them; they must not place undue cognitive or behavioral demands on people to follow. Thus, the law should be relatively stable and comprise determinate requirements that people can consult before acting, and legal obligations should not be retroactively established. Furthermore, the law should remain internally consistent and, failing that, should provide for legal ways to resolve contradictions that can be expected to arise.
Despite those basic features, however, there has never been a generally accepted or even systematic formulation of the rule of law (but not for lack of attempts by jurists and political philosophers). The idea that the law should contribute to beneficial ways of channeling and constraining the exercise of public power can be interpreted in different ways; such differences are especially apparent over time and across different polities.
Institutions and legal culture
For such reasons, the rule of law is best seen not as a blueprint for institutional design but as a value, or cluster of values, that might inform such a design and that can therefore be pursued in a variety of ways. Nonetheless, several rather simple and generalizable institutional insights follow from the idea that those who judge the legality of exercises of power should not be the same as those who exercise it. For instance, a typical rule-of-law state will institutionalize some means of shielding legal officials from interference, political or otherwise, that threatens their independence. Accordingly, the institutional separation of the judiciary from other branches of government is commonly thought to be an important feature of rule-of-law states. Other measures to ensure fair access to legal institutions may also be important for rule-of-law regimes. In addition, a binding written constitution is widely believed to aid the rule of law and has been adopted by most states of the world.
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While certain institutional traditions and conventions, as well as written laws, may be important to ensure that judicial decisions are grounded within plausible interpretations of existing laws, no single institutional character of a state should be seen as necessary or sufficient to the rule-of-law ideal. The rule of law is tied neither to any one national experience nor to any set of institutions in particular, although it may be better served in certain countries and by some institutions. Moreover, the institutional arrangements that ensure the rule of law in one polity might not be easily duplicated in or transplanted to another. Different polities embody their own judgments about how to implement specific rule-of-law ideals given their particular legal and cultural traditions, which naturally influence the character of their institutions. Nonetheless, the initial sociological condition for the rule of law is shared across cultures: for the rule of law to be more than an empty principle, most people in a society, including those whose profession it is to administer the law, must believe that no individual or group should be above the law.
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