Rule by law is not ruling by law
Rule by law is a term with a mixed reputation. While it was once popular, its use has fallen out of favor over the years, and many now decry the concept as oppressive. Rule by law is actually a legal concept, not a political one.
It stabilizes expectations
The purpose of law is to stabilize expectations about what is not acceptable in a society. It is the tool that enables society to overcome divisions and make collectively binding decisions. Law is successful only when the people accept it as a guide and its application is legitimized and regularized. This is why it requires the help of politics.
It has a human rights component
Human rights are rights of a person to be free and live without exploitation or oppression. These rights are protected under international and national law. The development of human rights began in the 19th century, when issues such as slavery, serfdom, brutal working conditions, and child labour came to the fore. Around this time, the first international treaties on human rights were adopted. These treaties were based on mutual commitments between governments. However, modern human rights agreements recognize that states owe obligations to individuals who hold these rights.
It is a complex legal system
The legal system is a complex social and adaptive system, and we have a role to play in designing it. Lawyers intuitively understand the complexity of the system, but defining it requires a theoretical foundation and metrics and methods. Once defined, this data is valuable to lawyers, politicians, and citizens alike.
It is a stable constitution
A stable constitution offers solid ground for new interpretations. Its limits are partly spelled out in eternity clauses and partly settled by judicial interpretation. The balance between stability and flexibility provides equal room for change for all generations.
It embraces certain substantive values
Law embraces certain substantive values, and is often characterized by its uniformity. One example is the notion of transsubstantiality, which refers to procedural rules that apply equally in all jurisdictions, regardless of substantive content.