There is no single definition of the rule of law. However, there is a basic definition that finds almost universal acceptance. As Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Walker wrote in his seminal work on the rule of law in Australia, the essence of the rule of law, originally attributed to Aristotle, is « government by law, not by the people. »  Academics, judges and jurists from various countries, particularly in recent years, have worked to define the meaning of this concept in more detail.  There is general agreement that the term is difficult to define in order to grasp its full meaning.  Kennedy J. observed: « The term [r]ule of [l]aw is often used but rarely defined. »  A library of WJP-supported and locally managed programs that promote the rule of law worldwide. The four universal principles are further developed in the following factors of the World Justice Project`s (WJP) annual Rule of Law Index®, the world`s leading source of original and independent rule of law data. The latest edition of the index draws on interviews with more than 138,000 households and 4,200 legal practitioners and experts to measure how the rule of law is experienced and perceived around the world. Our data provides up-to-date and reliable information to policymakers, civil society organizations, academics, citizens, businesses and lawyers, among others.
The results of the index have been cited by heads of state, chief justices, business leaders and government officials, including media coverage in more than 190 countries around the world. Another Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has made clear in several speeches and articles how important the independence of the judiciary is to the rule of law. Justice Ginsburg wrote, « It is essential to the rule of law in any country to have an independent judiciary, judges who are not under the control of other branches of government and who are therefore able to administer the law impartially. »  Justice Ginsburg described the nature of an independent judiciary by quoting former Chief Justice William Rehnquist: This is the second in an occasional series by the author that addresses the issues facing this year`s United Nations meeting on the rule of law. To stimulate discussion about the rule of law in practice, we use our Rule of Law Wheel, which provides a way to imagine the legal principles and traditions that help uphold the rule of law in Australia: law must be superior. All persons are subject to the law, regardless of their living situation. This first principle sets out the essence of the rule of law, which goes back to Aristotle: the rule of law is a « government by laws and not by men ».  In Politics, Aristotle wrote that « it is more appropriate for the law to govern than any citizen. »  American Bar Association President Chesterfield Smith summed up this principle in 1973 when discussing the Watergate controversy and the role of President Richard Nixon: « No one is above the law. »  The law applies to all members of society, regardless of their living situation. A good starting point for considering this concept is the definition of the rule of law set out in the 2004 report of the UN Secretary-General, The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies: There Must be a Separation of Powers in Government.
Drafters should enact the law in general. The legislator should not be the body that decides on the application of the law to certain situations. The executive branch applies the law to certain situations. The judiciary decides on disputes relating to the application of the law to certain situations. The mission of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative is to promote justice, economic opportunity, and human dignity through the rule of law. Learn how ABA is advancing the rule of law around the world through the Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI). Strengthening the rule of law implies respect for the norms of international law, including the use of force, and recognition of the primary responsibility of States to protect their populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. The rule of law is a central element of the humanitarian and human rights agenda; is essential for understanding and addressing the causes of displacement and statelessness; and forms the basis of the humanitarian protection regime. It in turn signifies equality before the law or the equal submission of all classes to the general law of the country administered by the ordinary courts; In this sense, the « rule of law » excludes the idea of exempting public servants or others from the duty of obedience to the law that applies to other citizens or from the jurisdiction of ordinary courts. The sixth principle of the rule of law could be expanded to be added: resources must be made available to resolve disputes without prohibitive costs or undue delays.  Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer also spoke and wrote to provide meaning and a better understanding of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.