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Democracy and the Rule of Law: Relationships, Challenges, and Conflicts

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University of Westminster

309 Regent Street

London

W1B 2HW

United Kingdom

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Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

This eternal question is one which aptly sums up questions over the relationship between democracy and the rule of law. On the one hand, democracy is an essential prerequisite to the rule of law; the power to determine as a people the leadership and governance of a nation is fundamental to the effective existence of a system of laws applicable to every citizen – the proverbial ‘claw setting’ that holds in place the rule of law ‘jewel’.

On the other, the rule of law is necessary for democracy; a robust system of checks and balances that curbs the excesses of government and potential encroachments into the lives of citizens, that guarantees equality and supremacy of the law from a fair trial to the enjoyment of core freedoms, is the foundation upon which one constructs a system of good governance.

In Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Arab world there are examples to support the assertion that the rule of law, civil and political rights, and democracy are being undermined and that the decline of one facilitates erosion of the other. In Poland, for example, the separation of powers is jeopardised by new powers of the executive branch over judicial appointments; in Egypt, corruption within the judiciary and legislature allows for executive branch restrictions of political freedoms, stifling opposition voices and non-governmental groups; under the Trump administration in the United States, executive orders are only held in check by robust constitutional protections that are upheld without – and despite attempts towards – undue political prejudice; and in Turkey, consolidation of power by the presidency has resulted in severe curtailment of legal equality through crackdowns on media, academia, the judiciary, and so-called political opponents, paving the way for unchallenged leadership in the absence of accountability.

In these and other states, history appears to be repeating itself. The difficulty of fully understanding the nexus between democracy and the rule of law is compounded by the fact that the content and scope of what the rule of law means remains tightly linked to each country’s domestic traditions and systems.

While safeguarding common principles is essential and restrictions must be placed on all individuals and administrations that exercise discretion, domestic particularities occur when we annex the rule of law to democratic rights. So, what are the universally common characteristics of these two principles, and what type of institution should ascertain whether or not a state satisfies them?

This conference will explore the complex relationship between democracy and the rule of law. Furthermore, it will examine when it is justifiable to claim that the rule of law and democracies are threatened in countries.

A full list of speakers, draft programme, and the keynote address will be announced shortly.

For further information or with any questions, please contact Ms. Pardilla Ramirez at admin@csips.org.

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University of Westminster

309 Regent Street

London

W1B 2HW

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

No Refunds

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