International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

What the rule of law is, isn’t and should be

Following up on our introductory lecture, check out this great post from the Open Society Justice Initiative called “Three Principles to Strengthen the Rule of Law.”

“While “justice” is a series of aspirations for a better world, and “human rights” consists of internationally agreed and/or legally binding restraints on state power, “the rule of law” falls somewhere in between.”

Beyond defining the “rule of law,” Goldston points to examples of the “politicization of law” as the anti-thesis of the rule of law. Given the title of our course you should guess that we’ll be discussing many example of how both domestic and international politics and political actors affect whether and how justice is done after atrocities.

The “three principles” he suggests:

“First, effectively and thoroughly investigate all crimes, including—and indeed in particular—where there is reason to suspect the involvement of state officials.

Second, refrain from using the criminal process to punish anyone for political expression, or to infringe upon the principle of judicial independence.  Relatedly, do not prosecute judges for carrying out well founded investigations of politically sensitive crimes.

Third, provide effective legal protection for government whistleblowers who release information of public interest to the media or the public.”

Is it too idealistic to expect that justice can be apolitical and therefore neutral and impartial? Is accountability “just” if it’s done in the strategic interests of some one or some group?

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One response to “What the rule of law is, isn’t and should be

  1. kmumass January 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    I think that it is very idealistic to believe that justice can be apolitical or neutral. Justice is afterall enacted by humans who are naturely subjective or opinion filled. As many know it is very difficult for one to see the other side of an argument that they feel strongly about. It is close to impossible in many situations for even the most even tempered, good natured, and fair indivdual to give another the correct treatment or judgement. Emotion clouds, and people as a whole are emotional creatures.

    Also I do not believe that accountability is just if its done ina strategic interest of a group of people. Because interests are different for everyone and some people’s interests go against or even violate other people’s.

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