Rule of Law – Rule of Dharma

Rule of Law – Rule of DharmaTowards a just, secure and peaceful world governed by the rule of law” is the theme of a new UN website: UN Rule of Law.

The theme of the World Economic Forum, Davos 27-31 January 2010, is “Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild” (with trust). What the Davos theme tells the world is that much of what is needed for a well-balanced well-ordered society (of which the corporate world is but a part) has broken, and that there has been a deficit and erosion of “trust”. These need fixing without delay and with trust re-discovered among its constituents.

Over the years, the makers of our modern world always remained parochial so much so all progress and development (human or otherwise) has been seen through the prism of self- interest and self-importance, be it within territorial borders or outside, resources, development, color of skin, uniqueness of culture, customs, life-style, language, etc.  Sometimes, this “ego-system” covets for a kind of stardom on the world stage, however uncomfortable it may prove to keep it for any length of time! See China’s ambition for prominence in the context of global economic crisis pushing USA to a secondary level or even lower in the geo-political scale.

This week/month, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Indian Republic, as a founding member of the UN with its 60+ years of existence with mixed-blessing, we find ourselves thrust into a world very different from the one 60 years ago. Despite our preferences or otherwise, there is no longer real boundaries, borders, Berlin walls, or real limits to prevent us from touching and feeling the humanity everywhere, our access to information and communication are instant and we enjoy our technology-driven freedom to see and to know how we humans are being treated in every other part of this planet and compare notes and question our rulers and even world forums.

The pressure to “rethink, redesign and rebuild” (with trust) is increasing along with the deepening concern of state of affairs. We need to understand this pressure and acquire the “how to” techniques and tools to tackle a number of issues in these areas:

  • Economic and social welfare
  • Mitigating risks of future mishaps and resolving systemic failures and problems
  • Sustainability and creating a framework of practical “values” and realistic guidelines that can guide the development and strengthening of socio-economic well being and social justice
  • Creating an effective framework of realistic “rules-of-the-game” and relevant and capable institutions
  • Strengthening governance culture that engenders democratic values, transparency and effective participation in all decision making  with a sense of accountability

Unlike the UN endless debates and deliberations, the Davos tradition has been more positive at least in coming with a better situation analysis and consensus of possible solutions and action plans. But then, Davos has no legislative, judicial and executive powers to “operationalize” the solutions and remedies, or to enforce implementation through any authority, coercion or public persuasion. The best it can probably achieve is to pinch, or stimulate, the nerves of conscience of the corporate leaders, some influential groups and bureaucrats, reminding of their commitments, commissions and omissions and maybe helping them with some-form of self-disciplines for the sake of a better world order. At the same time, it can place before the civil society all its findings, thus enhancing awareness of its rights, responsibilities and duties in its ability to question the deficiencies of any groups and also in finding just solutions for global problems.

Because of legal authority and control of resources, the role of governments everywhere becomes crucial in the making of new ideas and solutions into workable reality. Again, with no two countries or governments are similar in their commitment, capacity, competence and legal authority to undertake needed changes in their systems, the international organisations like the UN and its agencies occupy a special status and have a key role to play in the scheme of things. If the UN and its agencies are well-run and are truly effective, then the whole world, most importantly the developing and small countries, will benefit by having equal say in the management of world affairs and can enjoy both the rights and material benefits a stable world order can bestow.

Simply put, the effectiveness of UN depends on its “credibility” and its trust-worthy leadership. While the leadership is selected by the powers-that-be, there is much to its quality that can be added with enhancing the credibility of and trust in the system. In the writer’s opinion the credibility gap can be narrowed with a simple medicine: coherence in what the UN says and what it does; its internal justice system reflecting the fundamentals of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) lending credibility to the true meaning of the “rule of law”.

For example, a sample analysis of over 50% of the UNDT judgements/decisions for the period July/December 2009 (50 out of 96 cases) shows that more than 50% of the cases were rejected; another 10% disposed of as being non-compliant with procedures; over 10% the cases where the so called staff-favourable decisions were in fact bought with or exchanged for money, called as compensatory payments; UNDT has had no independent mechanism to investigate the complaints for truth or otherwise, nor had any noticeable “deep” inclination to query the management decisions one way or another. Besides this reputation, it is also reported that a number of cases sent to the UN Appeals Tribunal are being shunted back to the UNDT so as to “ensure” more delays and more fragmentation of final decisions and justice.

Unless I am terribly wrong, it may seem that we are going to have the same old rotten old wine (with more virulent germs) in the new bottle! My prayers are there to make my prognosis wrong!

Notwithstanding Davos, Regional elite Clubs like EU, ASEAN, APEC, NATO, Latin American Grouping, et al, the world order can never be re-ordered to sanity, equity, fairness and justice, without support and active involvement of a world organisation where all countries sit, talk and decide matters as equals. Right now the UN General Assembly where 192+ countries can sit and talk (also listen if they wish) to anything to do good, bad or ugly about the world order.

If good things are desired, subduing bad and ugly things from happening, the rule of law should govern deliberations, decisions and implementation in the true spirit of “Dharma”. Now, we have only one world organisation called United Nations. It should be allowed to function with unfettered freedom and without blatant politicised impediments, or bamboozled by defective systems. This should be one of the achievable goals to be reviewed in the 2010 MDG summit session to make the UN a trust-worthy world organisation for human survival.

I am desire in all living beings, that is not contrary to Dharma” Bhagavad Gita Ch.VII.11.  Dharma (Sanskrit) = right action based on righteousness, universal virtues, right thinking and living, through the prism of Dharma compact, a set of simple “do’s” & “don’ts” that are universally applicable, e.g. do not lie, do not harm; do not steal, care and share, mutual respect and compassion, etc.

V. Muthuswami / UN retiree (270110)

Joint Appellant of Common Cause Appeal # UNAT 2009-001 long waiting to be heard!

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    2 Replies to “Rule of Law – Rule of Dharma”

    1. There is something unique about this “post” – this article has been most viewed in  less than a fortnight after its publication, and yet there are no comments – for or against!  
      This made me to look at the UN website “Rule of Law” that carries probably a good deal of wise counsel & strategies  about establishing the sacred Rule of Law in the member states thus helping to eradicate the Laws of the Jungle or Kangaroo Courts!
      I wish the UN Rule of Law includes a special section to tell the world how its own wise counsel and wisdom are being introduced and operationalized in its own house of Internal Justice System.
      As has been said again and again in Davos 2010, the “trust” in our systems is totally broken; they need quick and good repair. Even with the best of efforts, sincerity and commitment, it will take time but it is possible to re-establish “trust”.  If UN can do this with the conduct of its own reformed UN Internal Justice System, then its rhetorics and preachings will have some effect in getting acceptance. 
      One of the important tools of democracy is the educated public opinion and awareness. Thanks to internet and cloud computing, it is possible for world citizens to share their opinions on the UN Internal Justice System whether UN has an obligation to provide the lead role and show that an independent , transparent and impartial judicial process and system is possible and need of the hour. 

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