National Law and the Rule of Law

A strong rule of law is fundamental to international peace and security; to political stability, economic development, and social progress; to preventing corruption, to restraining abuses of power and to establishing the contract between citizens and the State. It also serves as the basis for respect for people’s rights and freedoms in a democracy.

National laws, or domestic laws, are those that exist within a particular nation or State (or sometimes, a community of States). They may originate from a legislature, such as a parliament or congress, or they may arise from decisions made by judges in a common law system of justice, known as case law. National laws may also incorporate and enforce international legal obligations in some cases, or be subject to them, as in the case of a treaty that establishes a supranational tribunal to adjudicate certain matters.

A national constitution is a body of rules that governs a government by establishing checks and balances and limitations on governmental authority. It can include a Bill of Rights, and may be justiciable in a court of laws or a constitutional assembly. Some countries have hybrid legal systems that combine civil and/or common law with customary or religious laws. In such situations, local values can play an important role in informal justice systems and accountability.

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Cape Town, South Africa