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Mike Walsh, CEO LexisNexis Legal & Professional, spoke about Advancing the Rule of Law at the Conference of Western Attorneys General in Maui, Hawaii, on Monday, July 20. Below is an excerpt of Mr. Walsh's speech.
I’d like to talk about rule of law and the idea that key actors, including business, can make transformational economic and social change by advancing the rule of law, starting with the definition, and taking a look at how it’s measured. I’ll share some data around why it’s so important. And then talk about what we can do together to advance the rule of law.
The United Nations defines it in this way, “The rule of law is 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.”
There are many ideas included in this definition. There are also many other definitions of the rule of law from the American Bar Association, the World Justice Project, and a number of academics have offered their perspectives.
When you boil them all down, the components are largely similar. These may seem very basic for this audience, but when measuring something so complex, it’s often helpful to break it into simple components.
First, all are equal under the law. All people, businesses and governments are accountable, and the law applies to everyone in the same way, no matter who you are. There’s transparency of law. Laws must be clear, precise, affordable and accessible while protecting fundamental human rights. There must be an independent judiciary, ensuring equality and fairness. And lastly, there must be timely access to legal remedy, or access to resolution in a court of law.
The stronger each of these components are, the greater the rule of law.
I also think it’s important to take a step back and look at this from another angle. There’s a tendency to think of the rule of law as a theoretical or academic concept. But if you’re one of the estimated four billion people that live outside the umbrella protection of the rule of law, it’s not an abstract concept. Instead, the rule of law and the struggle for human rights becomes a matter of basic, daily survival.
The rule of law provides the foundation for how we live, the freedoms we have, and the degree of security that we enjoy.
So, let’s take a closer look at how the rule of law is measured and why it’s so important.
Reference a complete copy of Mr. Walsh's presentation via SlideShare >>