Legal and judicial systems

A couple of officals are sitting around a conference desk in the Ministry for Justice in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

The rule of law underpins development. Support for the legal system is therefore a key issue for international cooperation.

  
The rule of law has many dimensions. Most importantly, every individual has the right to live in safety and dignity. Many people suffer discrimination, marginalisation and exploitation; some even live in fear for their lives. Often, these individuals have no redress against being deprived of their rights. A further dimension of the rule of law relates to the core of the economy in our partner countries. Without legal certainty, economic stakeholders such as small and medium-sized investors or women selling their produce at markets can only achieve success within their own immediate circle of trust. This deters small-scale entrepreneurs from making investments and limits their incomes to a minimum subsistence level.

The work of international cooperation in promoting legal and judicial systems aims to improve the situation of those who have been deprived of their rights and to create the statutory framework for democracy and sustainable economic growth. The rule of law is a prerequisite for the protection and exercise of human rights and for gender equality. It accelerates development in other sectors, such as water, education and health. National and international investors require stable structures for the rule of law as a condition for their engagement. International alliances of states, such as the European Union, make it a condition that candidates for accession have legislation in place to guarantee the rule of law and apply that legislation.

As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, the international community has for the first time agreed on a development goal that puts the promotion of access to justice and the rule of law on the development agenda (SDG 16). This strengthens access to vital resources, such as health services, water supply, education and transport. Help for self-help is central to efforts that promote access to justice. Access to the law, combined with the ability to assert one’s rights, contributes much to achieving political and economic human rights and to combating poverty.

A judiciary based on integrity and independence is one of the prerequisites for a state’s legitimacy and sustainable development. It is one of the three pillars of the separation of powers: it limits the power of state structures, oversees the executive and ensures that citizens enjoy equality and freedom. A reliable and independent legal and judicial system makes a major contribution to the stability of the state and is a crucial element in a life lived with dignity.