By Yegor Shestunov, Diplomatic Academy Student
Following the Doha Declaration Global Programme's first seminar for university students at Vienna's Diplomatic Academy, students were invited to submit short essays on their perspectives about the rule of law, with this piece submitted by Yegor Shestunov. All opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UNODC.
If we had properly followed all the rules that we have written for ourselves, the world would have been a much better place. But as what we say doesn't always correspond to what we do, it is time to make some changes, considering the magnitude of troubles that our behaviour created.
The world is not stationary: it is forever-changing, and we are changing with it. The rule of law does not necessarily mean that we will be utilizing a perfect system of laws which can be applicable anytime, anywhere; new laws are written, some laws become obsolete, and others are adapted. Ideally, in a perfect world, the rule of law should guarantee a continuous pursuit of our evolution on what is just or unjust, what is right or wrong, and what is moral or immoral. Rule of law and its promotion means that despite the system's imperfections, we try to make a world a better place where we have equal opportunities for freedom, education, and life itself, and where justice can actually be served.
What makes today a special case is the fact that because of our own actions, we are potentially facing the Holocene Extinction. We do not have much time when crimes against humanity are committed every day, when our chances for survival slowly shrink every hour, and when we are losing the most precious commodity that humans have - time. Further complicating our situation, laws can sometimes be used to justify crimes against humanity or ever-growing disparities; what is right is not always wise, and what is allowed by law is not always what should be done.
However, promoting the rule of law on a global scale also means that despite some flaws (whether they were consciously created for exploitation, became abused gaps in the legal system, or simply represent our own imperfections), we have a chance to efficiently adapt to new challenges as we continue to strive for a better, brighter future. Just as the absence of an independent court would ultimately cripple a society, the promotion of rule of law worldwide is necessary for several reasons; it does not only insure that the decision-making process is just, but it also serves to show society that cooperation can be far more beneficial than war, and that achieving justice is not necessarily a zero-sum game.
Ultimately, it does not matter whether all struggles are fully resolvable; the rule of law offers a chance for positive change on a large, global scale, and encourages all to go beyond just paying lip service to actually do what we claim we want and need to do. With all the projects around the world, there are times we do not succeed. There might even be times when it seems we are going backwards, despite the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals and significant improvements towards some of them. However, going backwards is also an evolution of sorts, as one sometimes has to reach rock bottom to re-consider or re-think something. Thankfully, changing our direction is much easier when we have a working legal system.
Rule of law is an essential building block for a society, a concrete foundation on which a house can be constructed; you can always try to build a house without it, but it would be a lousy house.
Everywhere around us, alarm bells are ringing as we observe that people are slowly losing faith in humanity. Many do not believe that they are being represented, or that those at the top of the food chain care about the problems that they, the people at the bottom, face every day; what is even more alarming is just how many are also convinced that justice will never be served. Having seen inequality and injustice every day, all around them, they begin to think it is inevitable, something that must always be part of the equation.
This is not the way it should be. At this point, we require radical reforms, and promoting the rule of law and encouraging the rule of law is precisely what we desperately need.