Rule of Law and South Asia: A View from the Top

About the Author

Mr. Mohammad Rubaiyat Rahman
Student, LL.M,
South Asian University, New Delhi


The term ‘rule of law’ is used as opposed to the concept of ‘rule of man’. The primary meaning of rule of law is that the ruler and the ruled must be bound by the same law. Rule of law in some form may be traced back to Aristotle, and has been upheld by Roman jurists; Natural law thinkers of the medieval era; and also by enlightenment philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu and the American founders; German philosophers Kant, Hegel.[1] No separate law or system can be provided for the ruler. Law is the cement of society[2], synchronizing all the parts of society in a harmonious way. The debate over the meaning of the term “law” has been going on over a long period of time. In a very simple and generic sense, it is meant to be a set of standards applicable to judge that is related to the quality of welfare as well as protection of dignity of human beings. To explain the rule of law, Waldron makes an analogy with democracy and contends that a state is not a democracy unless it regularly holds free elections to determine who occupies the highest political offices[3].

The International rule of law has long been deemed as a vehicle for promoting economic development. From around 1997, the development community began using this term seamlessly with good governance. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), limited by their Charters from directly dappling in domestic political affairs, have emphasized rule of law and good governance.[4] Developing States have themselves  embraced the rule of law, acknowledging in the 2005 World Summit outcome that ‘good governance and the rule of law at the national levels are essential for sustained economic growth, sustainable development and eradication of poverty.’[5] However, rule of law at the international level has a quite different meaning from the scholastic opinions provided by jurists like AV Dicey. International rule of law may be understood as the application of rule of law principles to relations between States and other entities. Here, the rule of international law could privilege international law over national law.

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July 19, 2016

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