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Policy Paper on the Right to Rule of Law

Policy Paper on the Right to Rule of Law

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Published by: Priyanka Tisseverasinghe on Aug 20, 2010
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10/29/2011

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 District Multi-Stakeholders ForumOnConstitutional Reform and Peaceful CoexistencePolicy Paperon
The Right to Rule of Law
 
2
Policy Recommendations of the District Multi-Stakeholders Forum onConstitutional Reform and Peaceful Coexistence
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization thatresponds to the worldwide quest for popular civic participation, open and competitive political systems,and representative and accountable government. NDI and its local partners work to establish andstrengthen democratic institutions and practices by building political and civic organizations,safeguarding elections, and promoting citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.With staff members and volunteer political practitioners from more than 100 nations, NDI brings togetherindividuals and groups to share ideas, knowledge, experiences and expertise. Partners receive broadexposure to best practices in international democratic development that can be adapted to the needs of their own countries. NDI’s multinational approach reinforces the message that while there is no singledemocratic model, certain core principles are shared by all democracies.In late 2008, NDI commenced a program to promote multi-sector dialogue to build capacity andconsensus on constitutional reform and peaceful coexistence. District Multi-Stakeholders Forums(DMSFs) were created in eight districts of the South, Central and Eastern Provinces with the participationof political party leaders, representatives of professional associations and civil society organizations.During the initial meetings in early 2009, participants identified specific constitutional and governanceissues that they believed should be addressed through policy, legislative and institutional reforms topromote, consolidate and sustain democracy and good governance. Comprehensive dialogues werepromoted on the following issues:1.
 
The right to Representation and Participation2.
 
The right to Rule of Law3.
 
The Right to Transparent Governance4.
 
The right to Effective, Efficient, Responsive and Accountable Governance5.
 
The right of Women to Equality, Representation and ParticipationThe recommendations formulated by the DMSF are intended to initiate dialogues through constructiveengagement with policy-level stakeholders, political and civil leaders and others responsible in promotingdemocratic governance in the country. The recommendations for policy reform on the
Right to Rule of Law
are presented herewith with the kind request of the members of the DMSF to H.E. PresidentMahinda Rajapaksa, Cabinet Ministers, Leader of the Opposition, leaders of all political parties,Parliamentarians, Members of the Provincial Councils, Heads of relevant state institutions and the generalpublic to kindly come forward with commitment, enthusiasm and solidarity to promote informed dialoguebased on these recommendations in order to reach multi-party consensus in the search for a shared futurein which everyone will be accepted and respected as equals in an environment of good governance withdevelopment and peace and free of discriminations, fear, intimidation and violence.
The Members of the District Multi-Stakeholders Forum on Constitutional Reform and  Peaceful Coexistence
August 2010
 
 
3
District Multi-Stakeholders Forum for Constitution and Peaceful CoexistencePOLICY PAPER ON THE RIGHT TO RULE OF LAWIntroduction
“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.” 
-
Article 7 of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948.
 
Rule of law is the first issue in the “Declaration of Democratic Values” highlighted by the sevenheads of states of the major industrial democracies in the following statement:
“We believe in a rule of law which respects and protects without fear or favor the rights and liberties of every citizen and provides the setting in which the human spirit can develop in freedom and dignity” 
Rule of law has been advocated and endorsed by government heads from a range of societies,cultures and economic and political systems. The primary reasons they articulate their supportmight differ, some in the interest of individual freedom, some in the preservation of order, manyin the furtherance of economic development, but all identify it as essential. This apparentunanimity in support of the rule of law is a feat unparalleled in history. Government officialsworldwide advocate the rule of la. Government commitment to the rule of law has been anaccepted measure worldwide to assess the legitimacy of governments.It is also clear that there are contrasting perceptions of what the rule of law means. Some believethat the rule of law includes protection of individual rights. Some believe that democracy is partof the rule of law. Some believe that the rule of law is purely formal in nature, requiring onlythat laws be set out in advance in general, clear terms, and be applied equally to all. Othersassert that the rule of law encompasses the social, economic, educational, and cultural conditionsunder which women and men’s legitimate aspirations and dignity may be realized.Dissidents point out that the authoritarian governments that claim to abide by the rule of lawroutinely understand this phrase in oppressive terms. Some leaders and governments in theseauthoritarian or repressive regimes want rule by law, not rule of law. The difference is thatunder the rule of law, the law is preeminent and can serve as a check against all abuses of powerof government executives. Under the rule by law, the law can serve as a mere tool for agovernment that suppresses (human rights and freedoms), in a legalistic fashion.Rule of law is considered as an important attribute to promote transparent and accountable goodgovernance. In 1959, an international gathering of over 185 judges, lawyers, and law professorsfrom 53 countries, meeting in New Delhi and speaking as the International Commission of Jurists, made a declaration as to the fundamental principle of the rule of law. This was the

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