From June 20 - 23, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, over 450 diverse leaders--from heads of state and Supreme Court justices, to medical doctors, school teachers, business people and artists-- have come together to develop projects to advance the rule of law across disciplines, and around the world. This action-oriented Forum builds on the success of the first and second World Justice Forums, as well as nine regional outreach meetings in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and North America.

What is the rule of law?

The rule of law is essential to the work of all disciplines, and to the promotion of economic opportunity and fundamental fairness and equity. It is important because it is the very foundation for communities of opportunity and equity—communities that offer sustainable economic development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental human rights. Without the rule of law, medicines do not reach health facilities due to corruption; women in rural areas remain unaware of their rights; and people are killed in criminal violence.

The WJP uses a working definition of the rule of law based on four universal principles:

  1. The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law;
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property;
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient;
  4. Access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

Mainstreaming the rule of law

The rule of law is not just for lawyers and judges. The rule of law makes possible the essentials of daily life – including safety, jobs, health, education, and justice. For too long, efforts to enhance the rule of law and expand access to justice have focused solely on those affiliated with the legal profession.  While lawyers and judges are an integral component of promoting effective rule of law, the WJP is a firm believer that we are all stakeholders in the rule of law. Thus, the WJP encourages and engages non-legal professionals, from artists and doctors, to scientists and journalists, to view the world through the lens of the rule of law.

Keynote Address by the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, the Right Honourable Morgan R. Tsvangirai, at the occasion of the World Justice Forum [+]