Law is a body of norms promulgated as public knowledge. It should be accessible to everyone, so that citizens can learn, internalize, and apply it to their own lives. Its objective is to protect people from governmental abuse of power and to settle disputes in their favor. This is achieved through the independence of the judiciary, accountability of government officials, and the integrity of legal procedures.
Principles of the Rule of Law
The Rule of Law is the rule of law as it is understood by those in a society. It describes the subordination of public power to legal constraints and protects the primacy of the individual. In short, the Rule of Law is the establishment of a legal system that is accessible to all.
The Rule of Law has many aspects, including procedural and substantive. The former addresses the way a community is governed; the latter refers to the procedures by which norms are administered and the institutions that are required to ensure their administration. The latter, however, is controversial.
Nature of the Rule of Law
Rule of law refers to the influence of law on society, and how it affects individual and institutional behavior. It is the principle that all members of a society are subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes. This implies that every citizen is governed by the law, and stands in contrast to the idea that rulers are above the law.
The rule of law is the result of the impartial and independent delivery of justice by representatives of the people and communities they serve. These representatives are accessible and competent, and reflect the nature of the communities they serve. These principles have been derived from international standards and have been tested by a wide range of experts from around the world.
Relationship between the Rule of Law and political morality
A clear distinction must be drawn between the Rule of Law and political morality. While the Rule of Law emphasizes the supremacy of the law, morality puts the interests of the subjects of the state above the law. This is not to say that the Rule of Law does not promote human welfare, but it is not the same as political morality. For example, the Rule of Law does not entail helping beggars and distressing people. Nor does it entail a duty to help old or sick people.
Hayek challenged the Rule of Law’s role in ensuring freedom, arguing that generally recognizable rules are only imperfect formulations of principles. Instead, he preferred the common law model, in which principles are formulated through a series of judicial decisions.
Historical development of the Rule of Law
Historically, the rule of law has been closely related to the development of organized human society. In pre-literate societies, rules were often unwritten, and rulers had to proclaim them to their people. Later, the rule of law evolved from pragmatism to a more normative and progressive form.
The concept of the rule of law has deep historical roots and has been adopted by numerous cultures. Its earliest evidence can be found in the Code of Hammurabi, written by the Babylonian king. This document binds the king to the laws, and it preserved many ancient liberties in exchange for taxes. In modern times, this principle of the rule of law evolved into the United States Constitution.