The rule of law is fundamental in any society where human rights are to be protected. The word rule comes from “regle” and law from “lagu” roughly translating to “supremacy of law”. 1It is a mechanism for safeguarding human rights by guaranteeing them legally and at the same time providing a means for redressal where violations occur. The most important application of the rule of law is the principle that government authority is legitimately exercised in accordance with established procedural steps that are referred as to due process.
The principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance, whether by a totalitarian leader. Thus, the rule of law is hostile both to dictatorship and to anarchy. Since a democracy is characterized by majority rule whereby the law is whatever the majority says it is, the rule of law as a result is one of the measures taken to prevent tyranny by that same majority. Thus, it can be said that the rule of law protects the rights of individuals from the whims of the majority.
As a consequence, democratic countries require the rule of law due to the fact that it establishes the foundation for certain conditions on which democracy depends unlike authoritarian states which may be governed either by personal power or loyalty.
1. 1Definition of Rule of Law Rule of Law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. It refers to the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence to the influence of arbitrary power and excludes the existence of arbitrariness, of prerogative, or even of wide discretionary authority on the part of the government.
The Rule of Law is linked with basic democratic notions. In democracies, the use of arbitrary power is considered anathema to the rule of law. Fundamentally, constitutional limits on power, a key feature of democracy, requires adherence to the rule of law. Indeed, the rule of law could be defined as the subjugation of state power to a country’s constitution and laws, established or adopted through popular consent.