Rule of Law

The rule of law requires the separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and open and transparent law-making by elected representatives. The principles enable people to openly criticise the law and administration and to assemble freely. They mean that the law is applied equally and fairly and accessible for everyone.

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The principles also prohibit arbitrary treatment and torture, assume that people are innocent until proven guilty, may remain silent and are not required to incriminate themselves. In addition, they prevent civil or criminal prosecution for an offence unknown to the law when committed, and prohibit people to be adversely subjected to a retrospective change of the law.

According to the United Nations, the rule of law is fundamental to international peace and security and political stability, to achieve economic and social progress and development, and to protect people’s rights and fundamental freedoms. Rule of law and development are strongly interlinked, and strong rule of law-based societies should be aimed at as an outcome of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While the rule of law may be more or less well established in some countries, the principles are non-existent or fall short of the required standard in others. And, even if they are well established in a country, they are nothing that may be taken for granted. Rather, their implementation must be actively monitored, be discussed and be recalibrated, if and when necessary. The importance of the rule of law has become particularly obvious during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Governments do not always “get it right”. Their actions may, for example, be disproportionate and, if so, there must be remedies available.

KAS Australia through the Periscope series seeks to contribute to the ongoing rule of law debate, including current issues such as the proportionality of coronavirus measures, the interaction of law and politics, and opportunities and limits of rule of law states. More precisely, we aim to connect Germany and the European Union with Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific so as to increase mutual understanding, and to foster idea and knowledge sharing between policy makers, legal experts, and other stakeholders.

Analysis Briefs

Analysis Papers

Digital Lens

Digital Snapshot

by Eva U Wagner

VANUATU – Vacancies in Parliament?

In the beginning of June, the (now former) Speaker of Parliament declared vacant 19 seats of 52 members of parliament, including those of Prime Minister Bob Loughman and Deputy Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, on the ground that they were absent from three consecutive sittings without his permission. The Supreme Court initially stayed the Speaker’s decision, so that parliament could continue sitting the next day, and issued consent orders under which the Speaker had to resign, which he did, saying that...

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Interview

Reforming Tax Sharing

A short video of our virtual seminar with Prof Rudolf Mellinghoff – Former President of the Federal German Supreme Finance Court on “Reforming Tax Sharing in A Federation” For a complete recording of the event, please refer to the Melbourne Law School’s websites.  …

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

Concentric Circles of Extremism: A Lens on The Far Right

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the position of KAS Australia and the Pacific. Rather, they have been selected to present an overview of the various topics and perspectives which have been dominating the public and political debate in the Australia-Pacific region.…

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Digital Snapshot

By Eva U Wagner

New Zealand – Official Election Results

There were over 3.2 million enrolled voters, a record of just under 2 million of which voted in advance. Given the total number of party votes of just under 2.9 million, only about 900,000 voters must have cast their votes on the actual election day. Official figures of special declaration votes (including overseas votes) are expected to be made available as of 20 November.

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

The Indo-Pacific: Geostrategic Challenges and Opportunities for Australia and Germany

In light of the recently released German Government Policy Guidelines on the Indo-Pacific and the Australian Government’s Strategic Update 2020, the Ministers discussed their countries’ respective approaches to a rapidly evolving strategic environment. Minister Reynolds explained that changes in the strategic environment required adjustments to the prevailing modus operandi: how militaries innovate, in terms of capabilities, organization and long-term strategic thinking.

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Digital Snapshot

By Dr Beatrice Gorawantschy & Eva U Wagner

SPECIAL EDITION: NEW ZEALAND – General Elections

New Zealand has elected a new parliament on 17 October 2020. The preliminary election results are in line with the pre-election polls and show that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party has gained the absolute majority.…

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Contributors