Institutions and norms are the essential tools of the rule of law. A strong rule of law system includes trusted and fair judicial and correctional institutions, along with accountable police and law enforcement agencies that fully respect human rights. In particular, justice systems must be accessible to all people and must vindicate rights within a legitimate system. Where justice and the rule of law exist, and courts and judicial systems function to resolve conflicts peacefully, there is trust and social cohesion on the basis of equal rights. Establishing such conditions is equally important for peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development.
The United Nations was founded on the recognition of the importance of judicial institutions in both maintaining peace and security and as a tool of the rule of law. This is reflected in the International Court of Justice, an institution created to enable Member States to resolve their disputes peacefully under the strengthening of the rule of law worldwide. In addition, the United Nations has supported the creation of tribunals in national post-conflict situations to prosecute those crimes that are particularly serious for the international community, for instance, genocide as investigated in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. If there is impunity, there can be no long-term peace and security.
Recently, new challenges have emerged in societies for peace and security that threaten the rule of law. In addition to traditional armed conflicts, societies are encountering new types of criminal violence, such as terrorism and that perpetrated by transnational organized crime groups. The United Nations has been working to eradicate these challenges, tackling and preventing terrorism and transnational crimes, by strengthening the rule of law. Enhancing the rule of law is the cornerstone of a society less prone to these threats to the peace and security of its people.