Rule of law
The rule of law is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: "The authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes".
- When a nation comes to adulthood, to maturity, it relates to other nations in a completely different way than hitherto. It begins to respect the Rule of Law, which binds all nations together in mutual responsibility and need. The sign of a growing maturity is precisely this respect for the laws which men have found necessary to living together in peace. From time to time, a nation may feel powerful enough to ignore the law which irks its ambition to dominate, and to make war despite the warnings of restraint from its friends.
- Benjamin Creme in The ultimate triumph, Share International magazine (April 2004)
- The rule of law could never be realized if States continued to threaten and disrupt the internal affairs of others, support extremists abroad, and apply unilateral sanctions, Syria’s delegate told the Sixth Committee (Legal) (at the United Nations General Assembly meeting) as it concluded its debate on the rule of law and began consideration... on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization. Syria was experiencing an unimaginable situation, continued that country’s delegate, borne out of calls for legal reform. He decried the unilateral sanctions that had harmed his country’s citizens and demanded that States offering a haven to, and arming and financing terrorists to stop. He urged that the calls by Syria’s authorities to return to the rule of law be heard.
- I can attest with full confidence that the United States no longer has a rule of law. The USA is a lawless country. By that I do not mean what conservative Republicans mean, which is, if I understand them, that racial minorities violate law with something close to impunity. What I mean is that only the mega-banks and the One Percent have legal protection, and that is because these people control the government. For everyone else law is a weapon in the hands of the government to be used against the American people.... American justice is a joke. It does not exist. You can see this in the American prison population. “Freedom and Democracy” America not only has the largest percentage of its population in prison than any country on the planet, but also the largest number of prisoners. If you consider that “authoritarian” China has four times the population of the United States but fewer prisoners, you understand that “authoritarian” China has a more protective rule of law than the United States. Compared to “freedom and democracy America,” Russia has hardly anyone in prison. Yet, Washington and its media whores have defined the President of Russia as “the new Hitler.”
- What becomes of the rule of law when the decisions of a Supreme Court are ignored by the Legislature? These legal processes are being ignored by... the right-wing governments of the region that shamelessly carry out orders from Washington and vilify Venezuela... Venezuela should be lauded for defending the rule of law, not tarred with malicious fake news. But its government is sitting on top of the Hemisphere’s largest oil reserves and it repudiates the policies of the cannibalistic neo-liberal capitalism.
- Theodor Meron, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said he had been 9 years old when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, the country of his birth. Most of his family had been killed by the Nazis because they were Jews. When the war ended, he had emerged lucky to be alive, but profoundly affected by his experiences. While his career had followed a circuitous path, the abiding focus had been to grapple with the brutality of war, and to strive to find ways to end the horrific atrocities committed during armed conflict. Central to any such effort was the need to ensure respect for and adherence to international law, and the humanitarian principles and values of human rights and dignity reflected therein....As for the (UN Security) Council, it must serve as a model. The rule of law hinged on consistency and equality of enforcement; it abhorred selectivity. If one situation involving alleged atrocity crimes was treated with all due attention, and another left to linger in decision‑making limbo, the values underpinning the rule of law would be undermined.
- UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) provides comprehensive rule of law and human rights assistance to support national partners build resilient communities. UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner emphasized that the rule of law is not only about guaranteeing rights, but is an enabler of good governance and sustainable development. He further discussed how strengthening the rule of law is an integral part of UNDP’s work...
- "The situation (in Libya)is utterly dreadful," said Michelle Bachelet on Thursday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. "Tackling the rampant impunity would not only end the suffering of tens of thousands of migrant and refugee women, men and children seeking a better life, but also undercut the parallel illicit economy built on the abuse of these people and help establish the rule of law and national institutions."
- Of course, every state may defend itself, under some circumstances even before an armed attack aimed at it has landed on its territory. But the attack must be imminent, leaving no choice of means and the response must be proportionate to the attack. In the run-up to the Iraq war of 2003, there was the famous 45-minute claim concerning Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction.... the UK argued that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction might reach UK military bases... But there was no evidence that Baghdad was contemplating such an attack and the argument was abandoned. Similarly, there is no suggestion in this instance that Syria was preparing to launch an attack against the US, UK or France.
- Iran's representative Gholamali Khoshroo: Multilateralism is under attack while unilateralism is getting crystallized, said that the United States, a permanent member of the Security Council and holder of the veto power, is penalizing nations across the entire world, not for violating a Security Council resolution but for abiding by it. In May, the current administration of that country withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal) and is now targeting the countries that continue their economic ties with Iran in accordance with their obligations under Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).
- People today may believe that the men held in Guantanamo are “guilty” dangerous terrorists. But the majority of those still detained have never been charged and convicted of a crime. America’s foundational belief in due process and the rule of law did not protect these men from being held in Guantanamo without charges. Nor did it protect them from torture. The rule of law also did not matter when the U.S. military purchased some of the men held in Guantanamo by paying bounties to Afghan and Pakistani soldiers.
- A federal judge has breathed new life into questions surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton...and the 2012 attack that killed U.S. officials in Benghazi, Libya....to reassure the American people their government remains committed to transparency and the rule of law...
- Many Senate Democrats are throwing in the towel on the nomination of William Barr for Trump’s attorney general. One would think that Senate Democrats would be appalled at Barr’s long-time unyielding conduct and writings asserting that the President can start any wars he wants even if Congress votes against it! An example of this is the constitutionally undeclared criminal invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush. Barr was also George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General and has been a long-time defender of executive branch lawlessness. One would think that Barr’s insupportable drive for more corporate prisons and more mass incarceration would upset these Senators... Expect the further decay of a Department of Injustice, shielding a chronically lawless President and turning the rule of law on its head.
- Ralph Nader in Democrats may be surrendering the rule of law, Alternet (19 January 2019)
- And so, Venezuela becomes a geopolitical battlefield. The country with the largest oil reserves on the planet... No matter what you may think of Nicolas Maduro, this sets a dangerous precedent for every country around the world. It is an absolute violation of international law, sovereignty and self-determination for foreign leaders to determine the presidents of other nations... It’s a violation... Not just OAS charter, but also UN Charter and basic, fundamental tenets of international law, rights to sovereignty, self determination and non intervention...
- Under the Trump administration, aggressive rhetoric against the Venezuelan government has ratcheted up to a more extreme and threatening level, with Trump administration officials talking of “military action” and condemning Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, as part of a “troika of tyranny.” Problems resulting from Venezuelan government policy have been worsened by US economic sanctions, illegal under the Organization of American States and the United Nations ― as well as US law and other international treaties and conventions. These sanctions have cut off the means by which the Venezuelan government could escape from its economic recession, while causing a dramatic falloff in oil production and worsening the economic crisis, and causing many people to die because they can’t get access to life-saving medicines. Meanwhile, the US and other governments continue to blame [Nicolas Maduro and] the Venezuelan government ― solely ― for the economic damage, even that caused by the US sanctions.
- Now the US and its allies... by recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the new president of Venezuela ― something illegal under the OAS Charter ― the Trump administration has sharply accelerated Venezuela’s political crisis in the hopes of dividing the Venezuelan military and further polarizing the populace, forcing them to choose sides. The obvious, and sometimes stated goal, is to force Maduro out via a coup d’etat.
- We are concerned about what the US and its closest allies are doing with respect to Venezuela, brazenly violating all imaginable norms of international law and actually openly pursuing the policy aimed at overthrowing the legitimate government in that Latin American country... Together with other responsible members of the international community, we will do everything to support President Maduro’s legitimate government in upholding the Venezuelan constitution and employing methods to resolve the crisis that are within the constitutional framework... We would like to figure out what the international community could do to prevent another blatant violation of international law and violent regime change... This is what I discussed yesterday with the Iranian foreign minister, who - just like us - wants to find an opportunity for external players to prove themselves useful to the Venezuelan people.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in US policy aimed at toppling Venezuela’s government, TASS (29 January 2019)
- Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela, says UN human rights expert Idriss Jazairy. “I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela... Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state. The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law... His call echoed comments by the Spokesman for the UN Secretary General, underscoring “the urgent need for all relevant actors to engage in an inclusive and credible political dialogue to address the long crisis facing the country, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights”. The expert drew attention to the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, which urges States to resolve their differences through dialogue and peaceful relations, and to avoid the use of economic, political or other measures to coerce another State in regard to the exercise of its sovereign rights.
- United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Venezuela sanctions harm human rights of innocent people, UN expert warns, (31 January 2019)
- The Deep State is reacting with shock at how this right-wing real estate grifter has been able to drive other countries to defend themselves by dismantling the U.S.-centered world order. To rub it in, he is using Bush and Reagan-era Neocon arsonists, John Bolton and now Elliott Abrams, to fan the flames in Venezuela. It is almost like a black political comedy. The world of international diplomacy is being turned inside-out. A world where there is no longer even a pretense that we might adhere to international norms, let alone laws or treaties. The Neocons who Trump has appointed are accomplishing what seemed unthinkable not long ago: Driving China and Russia together... They also are driving Germany and other European countries into the Eurasian orbit...
- Any international system of control requires the rule of law. It may be a morally lawless exercise of ruthless power imposing predatory exploitation, but it is still The Law. And it needs courts to apply it (backed by police power to enforce it and punish violators). Here’s the first legal contradiction in U.S. global diplomacy: The United States always has resisted letting any other country have any voice in U.S. domestic policies, law-making or diplomacy. That is what makes America “the exceptional nation.” But for seventy years its diplomats have pretended that its superior judgment promoted a peaceful world (as the Roman Empire claimed to be)...
- Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton erupted in fury, warning in September that: “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” adding that the UN International Court must not be so bold as to investigate “Israel or other U.S. allies.” That prompted a senior judge, Christoph Flügge from Germany, to resign in protest... The original inspiration of the Court – to use the Nuremburg laws that were applied against German Nazis to bring similar prosecution against any country or officials found guilty of committing war crimes – had already fallen into disuse with the failure to indict the authors of the Chilean coup, Iran-Contra or the U.S. invasion of Iraq for war crimes.
- The problem the Great Powers now faced (after world war II) was how to create a process that the world would consider something more than vengeance masquerading as righteousness, something more than “victors’ justice.” The solution was to demonstrate that their prosecutions had a basis in the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties -- in, that is, the already existing laws of war. In the process of designing those prosecutions, they consolidated and advanced the meaning and power of international law itself, a concept particularly needed in a postwar world of atomic weapons and a looming U.S.-Soviet conflict. Three-quarters of a century and many wars and weapon systems later, enforceable international law still remains humanity’s best hope for adjudicating past war crimes and preventing future ones -- but only if great nations like the United States do not declare themselves exceptions to the rule of law.
- TomDispatch: Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Turning Our Backs on Nuremberg, (26 March 2019)
- On March 18th, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines became the second country to leave the ICC, where it, like the U.S., is being investigated for possible crimes -- in its case, against its own people. As the Washington Post reports, the country is “under preliminary examination [by the ICC] for thousands of [domestic drug war] killings since Duterte rose to the presidency in 2016.”
In its menacing rejection of the court, the Trump administration is turning its back on the system of international law and justice the United States helped establish at Nuremberg. The rule of law must not hold only, as hotelier Leona Helmsley once said about taxes, for “the little people.” If Donald Trump had truly wanted to “make America great again,” he would have recognized that international law is not just for the little countries. The greater a world power, the more consequential is its submission to the rule of law. The attacks of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo on the ICC, however, simply represent a new spate of lawless actions from a lawless administration in an increasingly lawless era in Washington.
- TomDispatch: Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Turning Our Backs on Nuremberg, (26 March 2019)