Washington International Law Journal


As the post-2015 Development Agenda is set to replace the Millennium Development Goals (“MDGs”), one of the most controversial new elements of the new agenda is the rule of law. While all of the official fora for discussing and producing recommendations have concluded that the rule of law (or some variation) should be included, there are still significant challenges to its incorporation in the final Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”). The interrelated points of contention have included whether rule of law applies at the national government level, whether it encompasses domestic governance, and how the concept should be defined and measured. Going forward, there are a few key factors influencing whether and how the rule of law will be incorporated into the next round of development goals: 1) the compelling force of traditional views on development in determining member states’ positions in the debate; 2) the continued importance of the United Nations General Assembly (“UNGA”) Rule of Law Declaration; 3) the centrality of the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (“OWG”); and 4) the ease of measurement and implementation of proposed indicators. If incorporated into the new agenda, a rule of law goal will likely include indicators that are easily evaluated and generate little political friction, such as legal identity.

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