The Rule of Law Program fosters accountability and trust in societies in transition by supporting effective formal and informal justice institutions. The overarching goal of the program is to improve the theory, policy, and practice of global justice and the rule of law by producing knowledge that shapes academic debate and policy discussions in The Hague and beyond.

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 assist 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.

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 that 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 system with a strong commitment to a ruled-based international order ingrained in its DNA.

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.