Identification of Types in Evaluation of the Rule of Law

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.7, 2015


Identification of Types in Evaluation of the Rule of Law



Zhu Jingwen


Evaluating the rule of law is not a simple process of quantifying various aspects of its development. The first question that needs to be resolved is the possibility of using uniform standards to evaluate the rule of law in countries or regions with different social structures and different levels of development. The rule of law has several meanings, including government by rules, implementation of equality and rule by good law, but each is constrained by particular social conditions and needs to be allocated to a type. Government by rules depends on degree of stability, and has no substantive meaning in a rapidly changing society. Implementation of equality relies on the adequacy of legal resources, and is difficult to put into practice if not guaranteed by human, material and financial resources; we therefore need to look for low-cost alternative measures and strategies suited to local characteristics. Rule by good law depends on reaching a consensus about good law; one cannot rely upon one model of the rule of law to evaluate other models’ degree of development. Differences in the rule of law among countries or regions with varying social conditions do not lie in the control of power, but in the manner of such control. In evaluating the rule of law, one must pay attention to the difference in different countries’ governance structures, for what one country resolves through law another country may resolve through non-legal means.