Handbook on the Rule of Law
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Handbook on the Rule of Law

Edited by Christopher May and Adam Winchester

The discussion of the norm of the rule of law has broken out of the confines of jurisprudence and is of growing interest to many non-legal researchers. A range of issues are explored in this volume that will help non-specialists with an interest in the rule of law develop a nuanced understanding of its character and political implications. It is explicitly aimed at those who know the rule of law is important and while having little legal background, would like to know more about the norm.
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Chapter 12: The rule of law and its application to the United Nations

Clemens A. Feinäugle


Recent UN activities have raised legitimacy concerns for which the UN itself has suggested solutions based on the rule of law. But neither the UN Declaration on the rule of law nor existing legal theory has provided a precise definition or a more detailed explanation of the rule of law. A study of the rule of law applying to the UN has to respect the specific features of the international legal order, i.e.: its highly political context; the lack of an overarching constitutional framework and of the idea of the separation of powers; and the corresponding need for flexibility as a consequence of the involvement of the Member States on which the UN depends. With these features in mind, the new approach of ‘modified functionalism’ is developed in this chapter to explain the legal basis and the binding nature of the rule of law as it applies to the UN.

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