The Fragility of a Culture of Lawfulness


January 1, 2018


Prof. Yvon Dandurand, Jessica Jahn





The Fragility of a Culture of Lawfulness

The concept of a culture of lawfulness is appealing for its aspirational and open-ended nature. However, the concept still has to prove itself as a concrete basis for action. The article argues that the practical value of that concept lies in its promise to create a fresh common narrative to support a broad range of human-rights inspired and democratically derived justice reforms. The authors reflect on what makes a culture of lawfulness possible, how it always remains fragile, and how one might recognize signs that it is under attack. A culture of lawfulness is based on the genuine willingness of government officials and members of society to hold themselves and one another accountable to the law, which requires a certain level of trust and confidence in justice institutions and their ability to protect everyone from injustice and insecurity. The article emphasizes the role of justice reforms in sustaining such a culture. Law reform initiatives and the strengthening of justice institutions play a central role in fostering and shouldering a culture of lawfulness, particularly when such reforms are not limited to capacity building measures but also address the more fundamental need for greater fairness, accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness. What is a grave concern in many societies is the political failure to defend the rule of law and to proceed with the necessary justice reforms to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability. One of the most important tasks today is to consolidate the culture of lawfulness wherever it has taken root.


Prof. Yvon Dandurand

Senior Associate


Jessica Jahn



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