SOS Rule of Law
A statement attached to the 67th UNGA Declaration of 24 September 2012 states:
The United Nations defines the rule of law as 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 is a definition that puts human rights at the heart of public governance, and requires all States to comply with the principles enshrined in the Universal Charter of Human Rights and subsequent documents.
It is evident that such compliance is far from a reality in the many autocratic regimes that are still active in many parts of the world. What is frightening however, is that the reason of state has prepotently returned to the forefront in many so-called established democracies. Minorities, differently-abled, or people who encountered one too many obstacles in their lives, increasingly find themselves on the edges of a non-inclusive society.
Fifty years after the end of World War II, the ‘90s sparked fervent hope in the worldwide affirmation of human rights and democracy for all. The end of the Cold War and the Soviet regime, democratization efforts spurred by economic development in the so-called Third World, and a consistent consensus among democratic leaders and peoples around the world in favour of human rights and the Rule of Law appeared to confirm the thesis of Fukuyama’s End of History.
At the turn of the millennium, such hopes rapidly vanished: the 9/11 attacks, the consequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the global financial crisis, climate change, the rise of DAESH and growing populism and extremism in most if not all established democracies have crushed the ideals of a universal application of human rights and a democratic rule of law.
Seventeen years into the new millennium, the International Criminal Court has been brought to a de facto stand-still due to the retreat of Member States and the unwillingness of the United Nations Security Council to enforce its mission; the dream of the European Union as a model based on human rights and democracy for other regions in the world is steadily turning into disintegration and its short-term economic interests prevail over its founding principles in dealing with other nations in the world; the Arab Region saw its peoples’ renewed dream of democracy and freedom succumb to the shady geopolitical interests of some and the unwillingness to react of others; the United Nations incessantly denounces the worst humanitarian crisis due to famine and thirst since World War II underway in four African countries, a crisis entirely avoidable according to the same Agencies but met with indifference and silence by Western media and actors; scientific innovation and evidence regarding global issues such as climate change is being derided and ignored; notwithstanding the economic crisis continues to exercise a heavy impact on many households around the world, military expenditure incessantly grows; new communication technologies have not led to the liberation of information as predicted, but rather to the growing control on citizen’s everyday lives, to automated weapon systems, and to the manipulation of public opinion and democratic expression.
We believe it is not too late to turn the table around. A stern return to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the democratic Rule of Law can avoid the looming disaster ahead of us.
This is what SOS Rule of Law is about. Since 2003, the NRPTT launches an alarm on the clear return of the reason of state, against the rule of law. We need a common transition, of democratic and non-democratic States, towards the full implementation of human rights standards around the world.
These are the principles that have guided the NRPTT’s actions since its very foundation in 1956; through its action for civil liberties in Italy first, then growing in Eastern Europe, Former Yugoslavia, Asia, Africa and around the world, leading to the only logical decision to confront human rights abuse and lack of democracy worldwide: the transformation into a transnational and transparty organisation open to all in 1989. Since then, the struggles for the establishment of the Ad Hoc Tribunals, the Universal Moratorium on the Death Penalty, the International Criminal Court and the Universal Ban on Female Genital Mutilation have been a steady step in the right direction.
Today however, we need to speed up our actions to avoid the risk of succumbing to the full return of the reason of state. We believe two major global reforms are crucial to initiate such a transition: the affirmation of the human right to know by the United Nations and the affirmation of “just” justice systems. We also stand firm by the principle that such reforms can find full implementation only in spaces that go beyond the national realm, that are democratic, and respect everyone’s right to believe or not to believe, basing laws on universal principles: that is why we strive toward the democratic, federalist and secular Rule of Law.