According to the Secretary General’s definition, the rule of law is 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.
Laying strong legal foundations for transparent, accountable and efficient democratic institutions governed by this principle is crucial for the success of the establishment of lasting and sustainable peace.
An independent, impartial and efficient judiciary is often seen as a crucial guarantee to political stability and security, indispensable to curb abuse of power.
The rule of law and peace building
As underlined in the first Secretary General Report on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies (2004), in the wake of a conflict, building domestic justice capacities, including strong criminal justice legislative framework, is imperative to address the root causes of the conflict, fight impunity and prevent abuse of power and recurrence of conflict.
Indeed, the United Nations experience in the past decade has demonstrated clearly that consolidating peace in the immediate post-conflict period, as well as its maintenance long term, cannot be achieved unless the population is confident that redress for grievances can be obtained through legitimate structures for the peaceful settlement of disputes and the fair administration of justice.
Despite some progress made by the Congolese government in fighting impunity, heinous crimes against civilians, including rampant sexual violence, often go unpunished. Putting an end to impunity is a daunting task that cannot be achieved unless efficient judicial mechanisms are in place and operational.