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 a unique player in the international community’s commitment to a rules-based order.  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 theme 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 two initiatives focused on delivering policy-relevant research, convening experts to facilitate dialogue and providing tools and training for practitioners . This broad engagement and outreach is crucial for stimulating constructive debate and generating new ideas to provide analysis and commentary on current developments.

The EU and Rule of Law Promotion

The first initiative seeks to develop better understanding of the EU’s role in rule of law promotion. It will outline ways on how to improve the Union’s activities in this area. Specifically, it will explore issues relating to rule of law promotion in the EU’s external action, its operationalization through more coherent and coordinated strategies, and the particular instruments promoting a rule of law culture across the globe.

Research and project  activities will concentrate on two vital pillars of the rule of law supported by EU external action, namely formal and substantive legislative reforms and support towards improved judicial capacity, including impartiality of judges.

The EU, as well as other international actors and donors, must find ways to better address and coordinate their efforts in these two pillars in order to strengthen a rule of law culture in a sustainable way as an integral building block to enhancing global justice.

The EU, Human Rights and the Fight Against Impunity

The European Union is founded on the principle to advance support for and protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide. It actively promotes and defends these values both within its borders and in the course of its engagements with non-EU countries.

The second initiative, The EU, Human Rights and the Fight Against Impunity will place particular emphasis on the role of the EU in the global fight to end impunity for mass atrocities and war crimes.  This initiative will scrutinize the contributions of the Union in the area of international criminal justice and focus on issues such as the universality of the Rome Statute, the independence and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court, the complementarity system, and how to strengthen it through justice and rule of law assistance.

This initiative will aim to promote better understanding of the efforts carried out by the EU and its member states in supporting human rights and the fight against impunity. It similarly aims at developing new solutions and better policies also in support of such justice institutions as the European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, International Court of Justice and ICC and other Tribunals.

Further Reading

Active: Distinguished Speaker Series

The Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) showcases eminent practitioners in international affairs and is the centerpiece of the Institute’s high-level engagement with practitioners and academics in the city…


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…


Rule of Law

The Rule of Law Program fosters accountability and trust in societies in transition by supporting effective formal and informal justice institutions. The overarching goal…