Though it is often heard, what does the “Rule of Law” actually mean? At its most basic level, it essentially means no one is above the law— every individual, no matter how wealthy or powerful, is equally subject to the law. Despite the rule of law being a cornerstone of almost every progressive society on earth, an estimated 57% of the world’s population lives outside this umbrella. This means 57% of people do not have access to basic legal rights, protections, and remedies. Not only does this exclusion significantly impact the lives of those individuals, but it also impacts the overall stability, safety, economic health, and social progress of many countries around the world.
Our mission at LexisNexis is to bring in those people who live outside the rule of law, giving them the access to resources they need to live free, peaceful, and productive lives. We believe that in order for the rule of law to truly be effective for all citizens, it must be upheld by four fundamental pillars: Equality under the law, Transparency of the law, an Independent Judiciary, and Access to Legal Remedies.
Equality means everyone is treated equally under the law, and the law applies in the same way to all citizens, businesses and government entities. Currently, equality under the law remains elusive for many global citizens, and in particular for women. Globally, women earn 24% less than men do, and only 19.1% of women hold seats in national parliaments. Perhaps, most troublingly, one in four women will experience violence in her lifetime. These statistics indicate a disparity inequality between women and their status in society.
Transparency of law means laws must be clear, precise, affordable and accessible to all while affording protection for fundamental human rights. Unfortunately, the reality is that many individuals are still victim to fundamental human rights abuses at the hands of those in power. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children, with 55% of victims consisting of women and girls. Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry that is present in nearly every country on the planet, even first world nations— 100,000 children are estimated to be in the sex trade in the United States every year.
An independent judiciary ensures that laws are equal and fair to both people and public officials. However, for the majority of Americans, an independent judiciary seems more like an ideal than an accurate reflection of the American legal system. Three out of four Americans believe political campaign cash affects courtroom decisions— this belief is shared by nearly half of all state court judges. Additionally, while 90% of Americans think judges should not hear cases involving campaign supporters, this conflict of interest is a routine occurrence as a result of outdated judicial conduct rules.
Access to Legal Remedies
Access to legal remedies means individuals must have access to timely justice mechanisms for grievance remedies and peaceful resolutions. At present, only 57% of the world’s citizens have real access to these crucial resources.
Advancing the Rule of Law
We are committed to leveraging our products, services, technology and people in order to combat these issues and advance the rule of law in the United States and around the world. Learn more about our initiatives and strategic partnerships.