Problematising the Rule of Law Agenda in the SDG Context

Danielle Watson, Ariel Yap, Nathan Pino, Jarrett Blaustein

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Despite a global consensus that rule of law is desirable, there are important debates about what this entails and how it can be achieved or supported in developing and transitional countries of the Global South. Accordingly, this chapter considers the importance and contextual suitability of rule of law as a building block for ‘peaceful and inclusive societies’ in the context of the Sus- tainable Development Goals (SDG). We begin by examining key definitional debates and consider the challenges inherent to monitoring progress towards SDG target 16.3 which seeks to ‘promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and ensure equal access to justice for all’.Weproceedto illustrate some of these definitional and methodological limitations by consid- ering how favourable rankings of model Western democracies mask rule of law deficits that relate to access to justice and the protection of human rights for marginalised populations. This critique highlights an important point that is repeatedly emphasised throughout the rule of law literature: rule of law is not an end state but rather an ideal that all countries must continuously work to realise and sustain. The remainder of the chapter considers the challenges of promoting a Western rule of law agenda in a failed and titular democracy (the Solomon Islands) and a peaceful and prosperous country (Singapore) which adheres to a ‘thin’ definition of the rule of law that does not conform with liberal ideals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emerald Handbook of Crime, Justice and Sustainable Development
EditorsJarrett Blaustein, Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Nathan W. Pino, Rob White
Place of PublicationBingley UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781787693555, 9781787693579
ISBN (Print)9781787693562
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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