Rule of law
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The rule of law (also known as nomocracy) is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to arbitrary decisions by individual government officials. It primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, particularly as a constraint upon behavior, including behavior of government officials. The phrase can be traced back to 16th century England, and it was popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. The concept was familiar to ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, who wrote "Law should govern".
Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law, including law makers themselves. In this sense, it stands in contrast to an autocracy, collective leadership, dictatorship, or oligarchy where the rulers are held above the law (which is not necessary by definition but which is typical). Lack of the rule of law can be found in democracies and dictatorships, and can happen because of neglect or ignorance of the law, corruption, or lack of corrective mechanisms for administrative abuse, such as an independent judiciary with a rule-of-law culture, a practical right to petition for redress of grievances, or elections.
- Antiquity 1.1
- Middle Ages 1.2
- Early modern period 1.3
- Meaning and categorization of interpretations 2
Status in various jurisdictions 3
- Europe 3.1
- United States 3.2
- Asia 3.3
- International Commission of Jurists 4.1
- United Nations 4.2
- International Bar Association 4.3
- World Justice Project 4.4
- In relation to economics 5
See also 6
- By jurisdiction 6.1
- Legal scholars 6.2
- Notes and references 7
- Bibliography 8
- External links 9
Although credit for popularizing the expression "the rule of law" in modern times is usually given to A. V. Dicey, development of the legal concept can be traced through history to many ancient civilizations, including ancient Greece, China, Mesopotamia, India and Rome.
In the West, the ancient Greeks initially regarded the best form of government as rule by the best men. Plato advocated a benevolent monarchy ruled by an idealized philosopher king, who was above the law. . Plato nevertheless hoped that the best men would be good at respecting established laws, explaining that "Where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own, the collapse of the state, in my view, is not far off; but if law is the master of the government and the government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise and men enjoy all the blessings that the gods shower on a state." More than Plato attempted to do, Aristotle flatly opposed letting the highest officials wield power beyond guarding and serving the laws. In other words, Aristotle advocated the rule of law:
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.
According to the Roman statesman Cicero, "We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free." During the Roman Republic, controversial magistrates might be put on trial when their terms of office expired. Under the Roman Empire, the sovereign was personally immune (legibus solutus), but those with grievances could sue the treasury.
In China, members of the school of legalism during the 3rd century BC argued for using law as a tool of governance, but they promoted "rule by law" as opposed to "rule of law", meaning that they placed the aristocrats and emperor above the law. In contrast, the Huang-Lao school of Daoism rejected legal positivism in favor of a natural law that even the ruler would be subject to.
There has recently been an effort to reevaluate the influence of the Bible on Western constitutional law. In the Old Testament, there was some language in Deuteronomy imposing restrictions on the Jewish king, regarding such things as how many wives he could have, and how many horses he could own for his personal use. According to Professor Bernard M. Levinson, "This legislation was so utopian in its own time that it seems never to have been implemented...." The Deuteronomic social vision may have influenced opponents of the divine right of kings, including Bishop John Ponet in sixteenth-century England.
In Islamic jurisprudence rule of law was formulated in the seventh century, so that no official could claim to be above the law, not even the caliph. However, this was not a reference to secular law, but to Islamic religious law in the form of Sharia law.
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 the Magna Carta in return for exacting taxes. This foundation for constitution was carried into the Constitution of the United States.
Early modern period
See also: Rechtsstaat
The first known use of this English phrase occurred around 1500 A.D. 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 rule of the law 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....
In 1607, English Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke said in the Case of Prohibitions (according to his own report) "that the law was the golden met-wand and measure to try the causes of the subjects; and which protected His Majesty in safety and peace: with which the King was greatly offended, and said, that then he should be under the law, which was treason to affirm, as he said; to which I said, that Bracton saith, quod Rex non debed esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege (That the King ought not to be under any man but under God and the law.)."
Among the first modern authors to give the principle theoretical foundations was Samuel Rutherford in Lex, Rex (1644). The title, Latin for "the law is king", subverts the traditional formulation rex lex ("the king is law"). John Locke also discussed this issue in his Second Treatise of Government (1690). The principle was also discussed by Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws (1748). The phrase "rule of law" appears in Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1755).
In 1776, the notion that no one is above the law was popular during the founding of the United States. For example, Thomas Paine wrote in his pamphlet Common Sense that "in America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other." In 1780, John Adams enshrined this principle in the Massachusetts Constitution by seeking to establish "a government of laws and not of men."
Meaning and categorization of interpretations
The Oxford English Dictionary has defined "rule of law" this way:
The authority and influence of law in society, esp. when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behaviour; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law. It stands in contrast to the idea that the ruler is above the law, for example by divine right.
Despite wide use by politicians, judges and academics, the rule of law has been described as "an exceedingly elusive notion" According to political theorist Judith N. Shklar, "the phrase 'the Rule of Law' has become meaningless thanks to ideological abuse and general over-use", but nevertheless this phrase has in the past had specific and important meanings.
Among modern legal theorists, one finds that at least two principal conceptions of the rule of law can be identified: a formalist or "thin" definition, and a substantive or "thick" definition; one occasionally encounters a third "functional" conception. Formalist definitions of the rule of law do not make a judgment about the "justness" of law itself, but define specific procedural attributes that a legal framework must have in order to be in compliance with the rule of law. Substantive conceptions of the rule of law go beyond this and include certain substantive rights that are said to be based on, or derived from, the rule of law.Most legal theorists believe that the rule of law has purely formal characteristics, meaning that the law must be publicly declared, with prospective application, and possess the characteristics of generality, equality, and certainty, but there are no requirements with regard to the content of the law. Others, including a few legal theorists, believe that the rule of law necessarily entails protection of individual rights. Within legal theory, these two approaches to the rule of law are seen as the two basic alternatives, respectively labelled the formal and substantive approaches. Still, there are other views as well. Some believe that democracy is part of the rule of law.
The "formal" interpretation is more widespread than the "substantive" interpretation. Formalists hold that the law must be prospective, well-known, and have characteristics of generality, equality, and certainty. Other than that, the formal view contains no requirements as to the content of the law. This formal approach allows laws that protect democracy and individual rights, but recognizes the existence of "rule of law" in countries that do not necessarily have such laws protecting democracy or individual rights.
The substantive interpretation holds that the rule of law intrinsically protects some or all individual rights.
The functional interpretation of the term "rule of law", consistent with the traditional English meaning, contrasts the "rule of law" with the "rule of man." According to the functional view, a society in which government officers have a great deal of discretion has a low degree of "rule of law", whereas a society in which government officers have little discretion has a high degree of "rule of law". Upholding the rule of law can sometimes require the punishment of those who commit offenses that are justifiable under natural law but not statutory law. The rule of law is thus somewhat at odds with flexibility, even when flexibility may be preferable.
The ancient concept of rule of law can be distinguished from rule by law, according to political science professor Li Shuguang: "The difference....is that, under the rule of law, the law is preeminent and can serve as a check against the abuse of power. Under rule by law, the law is a mere tool for a government, that suppresses in a legalistic fashion."
Status in various jurisdictions
The rule of law has been considered as one of the key dimensions that determine the quality and good governance of a country. Research, like the Worldwide Governance Indicators, defines the rule of law as: "the extent to which agents have confidence and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, the police and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime or violence." Based on this definition the Worldwide Governance Indicators project has developed aggregate measurements for the rule of law in more than 200 countries, as seen in the map below. A government based on the rule of law can be called a "nomocracy", from the Greek nomos (law) and kratos (power or rule).
- In Finland, the constitution explicitly requires rule of law by stipulating that "the exercise of public powers shall be based on an Act. In all public activity, the law shall be strictly observed."
- Rule of law in the United Kingdom is a core principle of the way the country is governed. In the 19th century, A. V. Dicey, a constitutional scholar and lawyer, wrote of the twin pillars of the British constitution in his classic work Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885). These pillars are the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law.
All government officers of the United States, including the President, the Justices of the Supreme Court, state judges and legislators, and all members of Congress, pledge first and foremost to uphold the Constitution. These oaths affirm that the rule of law is superior to the rule of any human leader. At the same time, the federal government has considerable discretion: the legislative branch is free to decide what statutes it will write, as long as it stays within its enumerated powers and respects the constitutionally protected rights of individuals. Likewise, the judicial branch has a degree of judicial discretion, and the executive branch also has various discretionary powers including prosecutorial discretion.
Scholars continue to debate whether the U.S. Constitution adopted a particular interpretation of the "rule of law," and if so, which one. For example, Law Professor John Harrison asserts that the word "law" in the Constitution is simply defined as that which is legally binding, rather than being "defined by formal or substantive criteria," and therefore judges do not have discretion to decide that laws fail to satisfy such unwritten and vague criteria. Law Professor Frederick Mark Gedicks disagrees, writing that Cicero, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and the framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that an unjust law was not really a law at all.
Some modern scholars contend that the rule of law has been corroded during the past century by the instrumental view of law promoted by legal realists such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and Roscoe Pound. For example, Professor Brian Tamanaha asserts: "The rule of law is a centuries-old ideal, but the notion that law is a means to an end became entrenched only in the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."
Others argue that the rule of law has survived but was transformed to allow for the exercise of discretion by administrators. For much of American history, the dominant notion of the rule of law, in this setting, has been some version of A. V. Dicey's: “no man is punishable or can be lawfully made to suffer in body or goods except for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before the ordinary Courts of the land.” That is, individuals should be able to challenge an administrative order by bringing suit in a court of general jurisdiction. As the dockets of worker compensation commissions, public utility commissions and other agencies burgeoned, it soon became apparent that letting judges decide for themselves all the facts in a dispute (such as the extent of an injury in a worker's compensation case) would overwhelm the courts and destroy the advantages of specialization that led to the creation of administrative agencies in the first place. Even Charles Evans Hughes, a Chief Justice of the United States, believed “you must have administration, and you must have administration by administrative officers.” By 1941, a compromise had emerged. If administrators adopted procedures that more-or-less tracked "the ordinary legal manner" of the courts, further review of the facts by "the ordinary Courts of the land" was unnecessary. That is, if you had your "day in commission," the rule of law did not require a further "day in court." Thus Dicey's rule of law was recast into a purely procedural form.
 Chief Justice John Marshall (joined by Justice Joseph Story) took a similar position in 1827: "When its existence as law is denied, that existence cannot be proved by showing what are the qualities of a law."
East Asian cultures are influenced by two schools of thought, Confucianism, which advocated good governance as rule by leaders who are benevolent and virtuous, and Legalism, which advocated strict adherence to law. The influence of one school of thought over the other has varied throughout the centuries. One study indicates that throughout East Asia, only South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong have societies that are robustly committed to a law-bound state. According to Awzar Thi, a member of the Asian Human Rights Commission, the rule of law in Thailand, Cambodia, and most of Asia is weak or nonexistent:
Apart from a number of states and territories, across the continent there is a huge gulf between the rule of law rhetoric and reality. In Thailand, the police force is an organized crime gang. In Cambodia, judges are proxies for the ruling political party ... That a judge may harbor political prejudice or apply the law unevenly are the smallest worries for an ordinary criminal defendant in Asia. More likely ones are: Will the police fabricate the evidence? Will the prosecutor bother to show up? Will the judge fall asleep? Will I be poisoned in prison? Will my case be completed within a decade?
In countries such as China and Vietnam, the transition to a market economy has been a major factor in a move toward the rule of law, because a rule of law is important to foreign investors and to economic development. It remains unclear whether the rule of law in countries like China and Vietnam will be limited to commercial matters or will spill into other areas as well, and if so whether that spillover will enhance prospects for related values such as democracy and human rights. The rule of law in China has been widely discussed and debated by both legal scholars and politicians in China.
In Thailand, a kingdom that has had a constitution since the initial attempt to overthrow the absolute monarchy system in 1932, the rule of law has been more of a principle than actual practice. Ancient prejudices and political bias have been present in the three branches of government with each of their foundings, and justice has been processed formally according to the law but in fact more closely aligned with royalist principles that are still advocated in the 21st century. In November 2013, Thailand faced still further threats to the rule of law when the executive branch rejected a supreme court decision over how to select senators.
In India, the longest constitutional text in the history of the world has governed that country since 1950. Although the Constitution of India may have been intended to provide details that would limit the opportunity for judicial discretion, the more text there is in a constitution the greater opportunity the judiciary may have to exercise judicial review. According to Indian journalist Harish Khare, "The rule of law or rather the Constitution [is] in danger of being supplanted by the rule of judges."
- Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, includes academic articles, practitioner reports, commentary, and book reviews.
- International Network to Promote the Rule of Law, United States Institute of Peace.
- Rule of Law Resource Center, LexisNexis
- "The Rule of Law Inventory Report", Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL), Hague Academic Coalition (2007-04-20).
- The World Justice Project A multinational, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen the rule of law worldwide.
- World Justice Map Map-based information exchange platform facilitating networking among Rule of Law promoters globally.
- "Understandings of the Rule of Law in various Legal Orders of the World", Wiki-Project of Freie Universitaet Berlin.
- Eau Claire County Bar Association rule of law talk
- Frithjof Ehm "The Rule of Law: Concept, Guiding Principle and Framework"
- Mańko, Rafał. "Using ‘scoreboards’ to assess justice systems". Library Briefing. Library of the European Parliament. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- The World Engagement Institute (WEInstitute)
- The International Development Law Organization (IDLO)
- Giovanni Bianco,Issues and theories of constitutionalism, Utet, Turin, 2012.ISBN 978-88-5980909-8
- Alessandro Torre,United Kingdom, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2005.
- Cole, John et al. The Library of Congress, page 113 (W. W. Norton & Company 1997).
The Oxford English Dictionary has defined "rule of law" this way:
The authority and influence of law in society, esp. when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behaviour; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.See “Civil Affairs and Rule of Law”, Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School (accessed October 18, 2013) (quoting the OED). The phrase "rule of law" is also sometimes used in other senses. See Garner, Bryan A. (Editor in Chief). Black's Law Dictionary, 9th Edition, p. 1448. (Thomson Reuters, 2009). ISBN 978-0-314-26578-4. The lead definition given by Black's is this: "A substantive legal principle", and the second definition is the "supremacy of regular as opposed to arbitrary power". Black's provides a total of five definitions of "rule of law".
- Aristotle,Politics 3.16
- Wormuth, Francis. The Origins of Modern Constitutionalism, page 28 (1949).
- Bingham, Thomas. The Rule of Law, page 3 (Penguin 2010).
- Black, Anthony. A World History of Ancient Political Thought (Oxford University Press 2009). ISBN 0-19-928169-6
- David Clarke, "The many meanings of the rule of law" in Kanishka Jayasuriya, ed., Law, Capitalism and Power in Asia (New York: Routledge, 1998).
- Cooper, John et al. Complete Works By Plato, page 1402 (Hackett Publishing, 1997).
- In Latin, Omnes legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possumus.
Xiangming, Zhang. On Two Ancient Chinese Administrative Ideas: Rule of Virtue and Rule by Law, The Culture Mandala: Bulletin of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies (2002): “Although Han Fei recommended that the government should rule by law, which seems impartial, he advocated that the law be enacted by the lords solely. The lords place themselves above the law. The law is thereby a monarchical means to control the people, not the people's means to restrain the lords. The lords are by no means on an equal footing with the people. Hence we cannot mention the rule by law proposed by Han Fei in the same breath as democracy and the rule of law advocated today.”
Bevir, Mark. The Encyclopedia of Political Theory, page 162.
Munro, Donald. The Concept of Man in Early China. Page 4.
Guo, Xuezhi. The Ideal Chinese Political Leader: A Historical and Cultural Perspective. Page 152.
- Peerenboom, Randall (1993). Law and morality in ancient China: the silk manuscripts of Huang-Lao. SUNY Press. p. 171.
- Levinson, Bernard. "The First Constitution: Rethinking the Origins of Rule of Law and Separation of Powers in Light of Deuteronomy", Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 1853–1888 (2006).
- Brett, Mark G. “National Identity as Commentary and as Metacommentary”, in Historiography and Identity (Re)formulation in Second Temple Historiographical Literature, p. 32 (Jonker, ed.) (Continuum 2010).
- Weeramantry, Christopher (1997). Justice without Frontiers, page 132 Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
- Magna Carta (1215)translation, British Library
- Magna Carta (1297) U.S. National Archives.
- Oxford English Dictionary (OED), "Rule of Law, n.", accessed April 27, 2013. According to the OED, this sentence from about 1500 A.D. was written by John Blount: "Lawes And constitutcions be ordeyned be cause the noysome Appetit of man maye be kepte vnder the Rewle of lawe by the wiche mankinde ys dewly enformed to lyue honestly." And this sentence from 1559 A.D. is attributed to William Bavand: "A Magistrate should..kepe rekenyng of all mennes behauiours, and to be carefull, least thei despisyng the rule of lawe, growe to a wilfulnes."
- Hallam, Henry. The Constitutional History of England, Volume 1, page 441 (1827).
- "The Rule of Law". The Constitution Society. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
- Tamanaha, Brian. On the Rule of Law, page 47 (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
- Peacock, Anthony Arthur, Freedom and the rule of law, p. 24. 2010.
- Lieberman, Jethro. A Practical Companion to the Constitution, page 436 (University of California Press 2005).
- Massachusetts Constitution, Part The First, art. XXX (1780).
- Tamanaha, Brian Z. (2004). On the Rule of Law.
- Shklar, Judith and Hoffman, Stanley. Political Thought and Political Thinkers, page 21 (University of Chicago Press, 1998).
- Tamanaha, Brian. “The Rule of Law for Everyone?”, Current Legal Problems, volume 55, via SSRN (2002).
- Craig, Paul P. (1997). "Formal and Substantive Conceptions of the Rule of Law: An Analytical Framework". Public Law: 467.
- Stephenson, Matthew. "Rule of Law as a Goal of Development Policy", World Bank Research (2008).
- Heidi M. Hurd (Aug 1992). "Justifiably Punishing the Justified". Michigan Law Review (The Michigan Law Review Association) 90 (8): 2203–2324.
- Tamanaha, Brian. On the Rule of Law, page 3 (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
- Kaufman, Daniel et al. "Governance Matters VI: Governance Indicators for 1996-2006, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4280" (July 2007).
- "Governance Matters 2008", World Bank.
- McIntyre, Kenneth B. (2004). The Limits of Political Theory: Oakeshott's Philosophy of Civil Association (British Idealist Studies ed.). Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic. p. 134.
- "The rule of law and the prosecutor". Attorney General's Office. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
- "Rule of Law". The British Library. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
- Vile, Josh. A Companion to the United States Constitution and its Amendments, page 80 (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006).
- Osborn v. Bank of the United States, 22 U. S. 738 (1824): "When [courts] are said to exercise a discretion, it is a mere legal discretion, a discretion to be exercised in discerning the course prescribed by law; and, when that is discerned, it is the duty of the court to follow it."
- Harrison, John. "Substantive Due Process and the Constitutional Text," Virginia Law Review, Volume 83, page 493 (1997).
- Gedicks, Frederick. "An Originalist Defense of Substantive Due Process: Magna Carta, Higher-Law Constitutionalism, and the Fifth Amendment", Emory Law Journal, Vol. 58, pages 585-673 (2009). See also Edlin, Douglas "Judicial Review without a Constitution", Polity, Volume 38, pages 345-368 (2006).
- Tamanaha, Brian. "'How an Instrumental View of Law Corrodes the Rule of Law, twelfth annual Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy.
- Ernst, Daniel R. (2014). Tocqueville's Nightmare: The Administrative State Emerges in America, 1900–1940. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199920860
- Snowiss, Sylvia. Judicial Review and the Law of the Constitution, pages 41–42 (Yale University Press 1990).
- Ogden v. Saunders, 25 These same issues were also discussed in an earlier U.S. Supreme Court case, Calder v. Bull, 3 U.S. 386 (1798), with Justices James Iredell and Samuel Chase taking opposite positions. See Presser, Stephen. "Symposium: Samuel Chase: In Defense of the Rule of Law and Against the Jeffersonians", Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 62, page 349 (March 2009).
- Chu, Yun-Han et al. How East Asians View Democracy, pages 31-32.
- Thi, Awzar. "Asia needs a new rule-of-law debate", United Press International, UPIAsia.com (2008-08-14).
- Peerenboom, Randall in Asian Discourses of Rule of Law, page 39 (Routledge 2004).
- Baxi, Upendra in Asian Discourses of Rule of Law, pages 336-337 (Routledge 2004).
- Robinson, Simon. "For Activist Judges, Try India", Time Magazine (2006-11-08).
- Green, Carl. "Japan: 'The Rule of Law Without Lawyers' Reconsidered", Speech to the Asia Society (2001-03-14).
- Goldsworthy, Jeffrey. “Legislative Sovereignty and the Rule of Law" in Tom Campbell, Keith D. Ewing and Adam Tomkins (eds), Sceptical Essays on Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p 69.
- What is the Rule of Law?, United Nations Rule of Law.
- See United Nations General Assembly Resolutions A/RES/61/39, A/RES/62/70, A/RES/63/128.
- See United Nations Security Council debates S/PRST/2003/15, S/PRST/2004/2, S/PRST/2004/32, S/PRST/2005/30, S/PRST/2006/28.
- See United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.
- E.g. see United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612.
- E.g. see United Nations Security Council Resolution 1674.
- United Nations and the Rule of Law.
- Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action Part II, paragraph 79
- Resolution of the Council of the International Bar Association of October 8, 2009, on the Commentary on Rule of Law Resolution (2005).
- About the WJP.
- Agrast, M., Botero, J., Ponce, A., WJP Rule of Law Index 2011. Washington, D.C.: The World Justice Project. (2011).
- Luis Flores Ballesteros. "Corruption and development. Does the “rule of law” factor weigh more than we think?" 54 Pesos May. 2008:54 Pesos 15 Nov 2008. 
- Peter Barenboim, Defining the rules, The European Lawyer, Issue 90, October 2009
- Peter Barenboim, Natalya Merkulova. "The 25th Anniversary of Constitutional Economics: The Russian Model and Legal Reform in Russia, in The World Rule of Law Movement and Russian Legal Reform", edited by Francis Neate and Holly Nielsen, Justitsinform, Moscow (2007).
- Hayek, F.A. (1994). The Road to Serfdom. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 81.
Notes and references
The modern economist F. A. Hayek analyzed how the Rule of Law might be beneficial to the free market. Hayek proposed that under the Rule of Law individuals would be able to make wise investments and future plans with some confidence in a successful return on investment when he stated: "under the Rule of Law the government is prevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action. Within the known rules of the game the individual is free to pursue his personal ends and desires, certain that the powers of government will not be used deliberately to frustrate his efforts." Hayek defined the Rule of Law as the opposite of arbitrary government: "The distinction we have drawn before between the creation of a permanent framework of laws within which the productive activity is guided by individual decisions and the direction of economic activity by a central authority is thus really a particular case of the more general distinction between the Rule of Law and arbitrary government. Under the first the government confines itself to fixing rules determining the conditions under which the available resources may be used, leaving to the individuals the decision for what ends they are to be used. Under the second the government directs the use of the means of production to particular ends. The first type of rules can be made in advance, in the shape of formal rules which do not aim at the wants and needs of particular people. They are intended to be merely instrumental in the pursuit of people's various individual ends. And they are, or ought to be, intended for such long periods that it is impossible to know whether they will assist particular people more than others. They could almost be described as a kind of instrument of production, helping people to predict the behavior of those with whom they must collaborate, rather than as efforts toward the satisfaction of particular needs."
The Rule of Law is especially important as an influence on the economic development in developing and transitional countries. To date, the term “rule of law” has been used primarily in the English-speaking countries, and it is not yet fully clarified even with regard to such well-established democracies as, for instance, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, or Japan. A common language between lawyers of common law and civil law countries as well as between legal communities of developed and developing countries is critically important for research of links between the rule of law and real economy.
The standards of constitutional economics can be used during annual budget process, and if that budget planning is transparent then the rule of law may benefit. The availability of an effective court system, to be used by the civil society in situations of unfair government spending and executive impoundment of previously authorized appropriations, is a key element for the success of the rule-of-law endeavor.
One important aspect of the rule-of-law initiatives is the study and analysis of the rule of law’s impact on economic development. The rule-of-law movement cannot be fully successful in transitional and developing countries without an answer to the question: does the rule of law matter for economic development or not? Constitutional economics is the study of the compatibility of economic and financial decisions within existing constitutional law frameworks, and such a framework includes government spending on the judiciary, which, in many transitional and developing countries, is completely controlled by the executive. It is useful to distinguish between the two methods of corruption of the judiciary: corruption by the executive branch, in contrast to corruption by private actors.
In relation to economics
The World Justice Project has developed an Index to measure the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice. The WJP Rule of Law Index is composed of 9 factors and 52 sub-factors, and covers a variety of dimensions of the rule of law —such as whether government officials are accountable under the law, and whether legal institutions protect fundamental rights and allow ordinary people access to justice.
1. The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law;
2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property;
3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient;
4. Access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives, and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
 As used by the
World Justice Project
An independent, impartial judiciary; the presumption of innocence; the right to a fair and public trial without undue delay; a rational and proportionate approach to punishment; a strong and independent legal profession; strict protection of confidential communications between lawyer and client; equality of all before the law; these are all fundamental principles of the Rule of Law. Accordingly, arbitrary arrests; secret trials; indefinite detention without trial; cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; intimidation or corruption in the electoral process, are all unacceptable. The Rule of Law is the foundation of a civilised society. It establishes a transparent process accessible and equal to all. It ensures adherence to principles that both liberate and protect. The IBA calls upon all countries to respect these fundamental principles. It also calls upon its members to speak out in support of the Rule of Law within their respective communities.
The Council of the International Bar Association passed a resolution in 2009 endorsing a substantive or "thick" definition of the rule of law:
International Bar Association
The General Assembly has considered rule of law as an agenda item since 1992, with renewed interest since 2006 and has adopted resolutions at its last three sessions. The Security Council has held a number of thematic debates on the rule of law, and adopted resolutions emphasizing the importance of these issues in the context of women, peace and security, children in armed conflict, and the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The Peacebuilding Commission has also regularly addressed rule of law issues with respect to countries on its agenda. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action also requires the rule of law be included in human rights education.
a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations defines the rule of law as:
In 1959, an international gathering of over 185 judges, lawyers, and law professors from 53 countries, meeting in New Delhi and speaking as the International Commission of Jurists, made a declaration as to the fundamental principle of the rule of law. This was the Declaration of Delhi. They declared that the rule of law implies certain rights and freedoms, that it implies an independent judiciary, and that it implies social, economic and cultural conditions conducive to human dignity. The Declaration of Delhi did not, however, suggest that the rule of law requires legislative power to be subject to judicial review.
International Commission of Jurists
Various organizations are involved in promoting the rule of law.