Within The Hague Institute’s integrated approach to peace, security and justice, the Rule of Law program leads interdisciplinary research to contribute to fair and effective solutions for pressing global rule of law challenges. Benefiting from our unique working relationship with international courts, tribunals and other organizations in and near The Hague, we conduct policy-relevant studies, and bring together high level experts, academics, and practitioners through seminars, panel discussions and training workshops on such issues as:

  • accountability and transparency;
  • access to and delivery of justice;
  • gender equality and non-discrimination;
  • improving public trust in formal and informal justice institutions; and
  • rule of law capacity building

Drawing upon international human rights law, humanitarian law, criminal law and principles of transitional justice, the Rule of Law program assists communities, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations to strengthen the rule of law. We partner extensively with intergovernmental, governmental, and non-governmental institutions to foster rule of law culture worldwide.

Thematic Focus and Projects

Researchers and partner Institutions of the Rule of Law program work in the following thematic areas.

ACT – Accountability and Civic Trust
ACT combines normative and empirical research on an established rule of law principle and an essential condition for a global rule of law culture. Accountability is an important principle for the international legal order. Everyone – from the individual right up to the State itself – should be accountable to laws that adhere to international law and human rights norms and standards that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated. Civic trust is an important foundation for a global rule of law culture. For formal and informal justice institutions to function well, a critical mass of citizens has to have confidence in their functioning. As accountability inspires but also sometimes hinders civic trust, ACT seeks to determine both these enabling and inhibiting factors for a global rule of law culture.

The EU, Rule of Law and Global Justice
International law has evolved over time to give the international community the means to address insecurity, the ‘scourge of war’, oppression, corruption and human rights violations, but the international legal order remains under strain. Even as our world becomes more interconnected, it has also become more fragmented and polarized. We live today in a time of unprecedented global challenges which require multilateral solutions. In this regard, the EU, conceived as a peace project following the Second World War, is an unique player in the international system with strong commitment to a ruled-based international order ingrained in its DNA. While the EU has been described as an “economic giant” but a “political dwarf”, it nonetheless plays a pivotal role in promoting the rule of law, human rights and global justice.

The EU, Rule of Law and Global Justice project focuses on enhancing understanding of the EU’s role, instruments and policies used in its efforts in promoting and consolidating the rule of law, respect for human rights, democratic governance and the fight against impunity.

This theme encompasses policy-relevant academic research, organization and facilitation of conferences, discussion panels, training, and other relevant activities. It does so by engaging with experts, academics, practitioners, and civil society representatives as well as broader audiences, including the media. This broad engagement and outreach are crucial for stimulating constructive debate, generating new ideas, contributing to knowledge sharing by facilitating exchange and capacity building, as well as providing analysis and commentary on current developments.

Access to Justice and Transitional Justice
The Rule of Law program uses normative and empirical research to study societies, largely those in transition, in order to better understand how justice measures at the domestic level can lead to more favorable outcomes, such as greater trust and satisfaction with legal proceedings. Access to justice is assessed through understanding which legal problems exist, how individuals solve such problems and how they perceive their interactions with the justice system. The program also focuses on transitional justice measures such as truth commissions, trials and reparations.

Click below for the program fact-sheet:

Fact sheet

Related Projects

Past Initiative: The Hague Approach

Justice can be a scarce commodity in countries affected by conflicts. The Hague Institute draws lessons from experiences of post-conflict rebuilding activities in Afghanistan…