Two acronyms are prominent current currency – and they happen to be the two sides of the same coin. The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and the less controversially discussed sibling Rule of Law (RoL) are for obvious reasons complementary.

Author(s): 
Henning Melber
Date published on SAFPI: 
Monday, 13 August, 2012
Publication date of source: 
Monday, 13 August, 2012

Promoting the rule of law: Challenges for South Africa's policy

Series title: 
SAFPI Commentary No 05

Two acronyms are prominent current currency – and they happen to be the two sides of the same coin. The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and the less controversially discussed sibling Rule of Law (RoL) are for obvious reasons complementary. After all, situations of state failure which require the international community’s responsible intervention with the aim to protect people from abuse through the state power under which they are forced to live (if not killed by it or seeking refuge elsewhere), result in a post-conflict situation, which requires transitional justice and the establishment of a lasting RoL. While RtoP emerged as one of the most contentious issues recently discussed in the context of global policy and governance, RoL has been never really much a matter of openly spectacular debate. But this does not mean that it is a widely accepted and practiced notion. The paradigm can well surface as one of massive differences very soon, when the next General Assembly of the United Nations opens with a high level debate in mid-September.

This paper seeks to summarise several of the core issues around the debate on the RoL. It is linked with the challenges for South African domestic and foreign policy, measured against its self-proclaimed role as a pro-active global player assuming even more responsibility in terms of continental policy matters. This is documented by the successful campaign to fill the position of chairperson at the AU Commission with one of South Africa’s leading political office bearers..

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