The Rule of Law in the 2030 Agenda
KFG Working Paper Series, No. 9, Berlin Potsdam Research Group “The International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?”
34 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
The rule of law is the cornerstone of the international legal system. This paper shows, through analysis of intergovernmental instruments, statements made by representatives of States, and negotiation records, that the rule of law at the United Nations has become increasingly contested in the past years. More precisely, the argument builds on the process of integrating the notion of the rule of law into the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in September 2015 in the document Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The main sections set out the background of the rule of law debate at the UN, the elements of the rule of law at the goal- and target-levels in the 2030 Agenda – especially in the SDG 16 –, and evaluate whether the rule of law in this context may be viewed as a normative and universal foundation of international law. The paper concludes, with reflections drawn from the process leading up to the 2030 Agenda and the final outcome document that the rule of law – or at least strong and precise formulations of the concept – may be in decline in institutional and normative settings. This can be perceived as symptomatic of a broader crisis of the international legal order.
Keywords: international law, rule of law, SDGs, SDG 16, sustainable development goals, Agenda 2030, United Nations, OWG
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