Delivering justice: programme of action to strengthen rule of law, national & international levels-UNGA-16/03/2012

The United Nations defines the rule of law as 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 decisionmaking, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency

UNO-GA A/66/749

Report of the Secretary-General: Delivering justice: programme of action to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels (A/66/749)

The global system is coming under unprecedented stress from interconnected and complex transformations in our human and physical geography. Environmental degradation, rapid urbanization, conflict, severe income inequalities and exclusion of vulnerable groups pose major challenges to human development and security. Robust principles are needed to underpin the management of our future. The rule of law is a core principle of governance that ensures justice and fairness, values that are essential to humanity. The rule of law is central to the vision of the SecretaryGeneral for the coming five years, and must guide our collective response to a fastchanging world. The United Nations defines the rule of law as 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 decisionmaking, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.

At the international level, the rule of law accords predictability and legitimacy to the actions of States, strengthens their sovereign equality and underpins the responsibility of a State to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction. Full implementation of the obligations set forth in the Charter of the United Nations and in other international instruments, including the international human rights framework, is central to collective efforts to maintain international peace and security, effectively address emerging threats and close off accountability gaps for international crimes.

At the national level, the rule of law is at the heart of the social contract between the State and individuals under its jurisdiction, and ensures that justice permeates society at every level. The rule of law guarantees the protection of the full range of human rights, brings citizens and non-citizens alike legitimate avenues of recourse in cases of abuses of power and allows for the peaceful and fair resolution of disputes. The rule of law is ensured by national institutions that can generate and implement clear, public and just laws, and that provide fair, equitable and accountable public services to all people equally. Strengthening the rule of law fosters an environment that facilitates sustainable human development and the protection and empowerment of women, children and vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced persons, stateless persons, refugees and migrants.

While responsibility for ensuring the rule of law at the international and national levels lies with Member States and their citizens, the United Nations can assist in strengthening it. Such assistance must be in line with the internationally agreed normative framework, but must also be led by national aspirations and anchored in the national context.

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