18 Minn. J. Int'l L. 425 (2009)
Searching for the Meaning of the Rule of Law: Finding Extraordinary People

handle is hein.journals/mjgt18 and id is 429 raw text is: Cite as: 18 Minn. J. Int'l L. 425 (2009)

Rule of Law Symposium
Searching for the Meaning of the Rule of
Law: Finding Extraordinary People
Mark S. Ellis*
Exactly what constitutes the rule of law has been much
debated in recent years, paralleling a growing interest in
whether or not the rule of law may be a key unifying principle
for all nations. That this symposium edition of the Minnesota
Journal of International Law focuses directly on the meaning of
this concept is testimony to its importance and promising
future. We have all read the definitions-free elections, free
media, presumption of innocence, an independent judiciary,
proportional punishment, etc. But, while laudable and accurate,
these descriptions and definitions still ring shallow for me
because they fail to capture the essence of the rule of law-the
human spirit.
When I look back to my early years with the American Bar
Association's Central European and Eurasian Legal Initiative
(CEELI) project, I think of the many people I met and worked
with in the former Soviet Bloc countries. These were lawyers,
judges, professors, and   civic leaders who had     sacrificed
enormously during the communist era and were struggling to
create new societies based on the rule of law. It was through
their eyes and experiences that I came to learn the true
meaning of the rule of law. Unlike most of us, they understood
what is meant by the rule of law because they had lived without
it for most of their lives.
* Mark Ellis was Executive Director of the American Bar Association CEELI project
from 1990-2000. He is currently Executive Director of the International Bar
Association, London. This article was written in response to Mr. Ellis' participation
in the Minnesota Journal of Law's Rule of Law Symposium on November 14, 2008.

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