Making laws is never easy and Alfred de Zayas prescribes a mix that places human rights and dignity at the forefront. Our laws need to have simple and complex versions readily available to the public to improve our understanding of how the society we exist in works.

“We also have humanistic “values” that should guide diplomacy and peace-making – including the principle “pacta sunt servanda” (treaties must be implemented, art. 26 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties). Let us not forget the general principles of law, including good faith (bona fide), the prohibition of abusing rights (sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas), and the principle of estoppel (ex injuria non oritur jus) – you can’t have your cake and eat it. Alas, both in domestic and international law there is a high level of bad faith and the tendency to apply double-standards. Major powers make agreements and then break them with impunity. Major powers undermine diplomacy by brazenly lying, by making promises and not keeping then. This subverts the credibility of the entire system of norms and mechanisms. Politicians often forget that keeping one’s word is not only a matter of personal honour – it is an indispensable element of trust in the conduct of public affairs. Among other crucial values that we should promote are Christian values such as compassion, empathy, forgiveness, solidarity.

It is axiomatic that the rule of law functions as a pillar of stability, predictability and the democratic ethos in modern society. Its object and purpose is to serve the human person and progressively achieve human dignity in the larger context of freedom.

Because law reflects power imbalances, we must ensure that the ideal of the rule of law is not instrumentalized simply to enforce the status quo, maintain privilege, and the exploitation of one group over another. The rule of law must be a rule that allows flexibility and welcomes continuous democratic dialogue to devise and implement those reforms required by an evolving society. It must be a rule of conscience, of listening.

Throughout history law has all too frequently been manipulated by political power, becoming a kind of dictatorship through law, where people are robbed of their individual and collective rights, while the law itself becomes the main instrument of their disenfranchisement. Experience has taught us that law is not coterminous with justice and that laws can be adopted and enforced to perpetuate abuse and cement injustice. Accordingly, any appeal to the rule of law should be contextualized within a human-rights-based framework.”