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The contemporary interpretation of the doctrine of the rule of law refers to a cluster of ideas, the best known being related to the principle of legality, prescription of procedural standards in the administration of justice, the separation of powers, promotion of material justice and individual rights and the maintenance of public order (Fombat, 2005). Very recently, economists and development specialists have begun to discuss the  “Rule of Law” as the enforcement of private contracts (Mullarkey, 2010).

To promote uniformity in usage and understanding of the rule of law, the UN Secretary General in his report to Security Council in 2004, provided a detailed definition: 

‘The “rule of law” refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.’

This definition of the rule of law thoughtfully presents the concept as a collection of principles that can be used to inform the structure, operation, reform, and evaluation of law-related institutions across societies.  It emphasises equity, accountability, and avoidance of arbitrariness, and it is rooted in fundamental principles of human rights, as well as the more traditional concept of the supremacy of the law. Cognizant of this, programmes to foster the rule of law in Africa have mushroomed in the last decade. However, well-grounded knowledge about what factors ensure successful outcomes from these programmes, and why, remains scarce. 

Ignatieff and Desormeau (2005:1) argue that ‘a measurement revolution has been underway in the fields of development and governance’, a phenomenon which can be recognised through the ever-increasing volume  of and spreading influence of numerical indices in measuring development and governance in issues like corruption, human rights, crime and safety as well as the rule of law. Alemika and Chukwuma, (2007) state that, sub-Saharan Africa appears to have been left behind in this “measurement revolution”, as decisions of government and other policy makers are not based on systematically collected and analysed information.  This tends to produce a culture of planning and administration based on anecdotal evidence, experience, tradition and hunches with attendant ineffectiveness and inefficiency on the rule of law (Chukwuma, 2008).  Against this background and through the use of surveys and justice indicators the CLEEN Foundation has identified challenges, areas of strength, and paths to pursue in order to promote the rule of law in Africa,  with a specific focus on Nigeria.

Keywords: rule of law – crime statistics and impact – performance measurements

By admin

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