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Human Rights Council 34: Joint statement under Item 8 (Rule of Law)

This joint statement was delivered during the discussion on the Rule of Law at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council on 20 March 2017.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

Equality, equity and non-discrimination are among the basic elements of the Rule of Law. The Human Rights Council can play an important role in strengthening the rules-based international system and assist in promoting the Rule of Law at the national and international level.

The Rule of Law is a cross-cutting theme across all the Sustainable Development Goals, not just Goal 16, which includes providing equal access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The Rule of Law is a base for the three pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social including cultural development and environmental development. It plays an important role in securing property and attracting investment; it provides a fertile ground for stability and certainty. It furnishes respect of rights for all, equal access to services and fights discrimination, intolerance and exclusion. It reduces the drivers of conflict.

The Rule of Law is about rules but it is also about results. The rules are centred on certainty, predictability, legality and procedural clarity. The results are, inter alia, equal protection, equal accountability and an outcome based on human rights obligations.

Laws can discriminate or empower – laws alone do not protect. Human rights are not only to be found on paper. Laws need to have content; and the content for substantive justice is found in international human rights. The Rule of Law operationalises human rights through constitutional and legal protection, an independent and impartial judiciary, competent institutions, and effective remedies.

The Human Rights Council can do its part by promoting the Rule of Law at the national and international level, and ensuring that the Rule of Law is not just about rules, but also about implementation.

Published 20 March 2017