Three different views, explained by the former lead prosecutor at the International Criminal Court:
Do-gooders and democrats try to convince dictators to improve rule of law, while repressive regimes are more than happy to refer to “rule of law” as they crack down on dissent at home. And governments of every stripe lean on rule of law arguments in the international arena.
With definitions so divergent, the meeting on the rule of law could end up being a forum in which everyone talks past each other, using the same words for wildly different things.
If this is to be a meaningful step toward more equitably governed states and a more reliably rules-based international system, then we have to first agree what it is we are actually talking about — particularly in this forum, as it will likely become an important platform for donor funding.
In our eagerness to promote the rule of law, we often confuse three competing visions of it: the institutional, the procedural and the substantive.