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

See all articles by Noora Arajärvi

Noora Arajärvi

University of Oxford - Centre for Socio-Legal Studies

Date Written: June 1, 2017

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Arajärvi, Noora, The Rule of Law in the 2030 Agenda (June 1, 2017). KFG Working Paper Series, No. 9, Berlin Potsdam Research Group “The International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?”. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2992016 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2992016

Noora Arajärvi (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Centre for Socio-Legal Studies ( email )

Wolfson College
Linton Road
Oxford OX2 6UD, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

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