The International Rule of Law Time after Time: Temporary Institutions between Change and Continuity
Forthcoming in the Netherlands Yearbook of International Law (2015)
30 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 21, 2014
The rule of law has emerged both on the domestic and international levels as a promise for longstanding democracy, economic development and peace. On both levels, the rule of law is often associated with the longstanding character of institutions and predictability of rules, meaning that ‘citizens are entitled to laws that are neither murky nor uncertain’. However, does this always mean in practice that the rule of law can only be concretized by laws and legal institutions that last forever? More specifically in the international context, can we guarantee the consolidation of the international rule of law through the coexistence of both permanent and temporary institutions and instruments? In this chapter, I analyse the meaning of the rule of law at the domestic and international levels and discuss its complex relationship with time. In this chapter, I argue that the past, present and future of the rule of law can be, in some cases, united by the use of temporary institutions such as international criminal tribunals or truth commissions, rules (e.g.as sunset clauses) and measures (e.g. flexible migration policies, relief measures). Temporariness can be essential to react swiftly to humanitarian crises, provide transitory justice, while gradually concretizing the rule of law in fragile democracies, and adapting legal orders to evolving economic and political circumstances.
Keywords: Rule of law; international rule of law; temporary legislation; temporary institutions; international criminal courts; legal certainty; predictability; transitory justice; sunset clauses.
JEL Classification: K33, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation