For the United Nations (UN) system, the rule of law (rechtsstaat) is a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency.

 

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No country can maintain a rule of law society (een rechtsstaatmaatschappij) if its people do not respect the laws. Everyone must make a commitment to respect laws, legal authorities, legal signage and signals, and courts. 

 

Imagine if everyone in your community decided that they did not want to be bothered by traffic laws and signals, for example. The streets in your community would quickly become a chaotic and less safe place. Police officers might be overwhelmed trying to help the situation, or ignored altogether.

 

The rule of law functions because most of us agree that it is important to follow laws every day. As a result, we teach about law in schools, talk about law, enjoy numerous courtroom dramas, and, accept law as a part of American culture.

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