The island’s First Deemster has called on politicians and other decision-makers worldwide to learn to love the rule of law.
He says that without the rule of law ‘anarchy would prevail.’
Deemster David Doyle believes passionately that economic growth is also vital as long as nations adhere to laws.
He said: ‘The rule of law is, and will continue to be, the social and economic backbone of every society.
‘A backbone that enables countries to fully evolve, and irrespective of size, stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to the international collaboration needed to fuel economic growth.
‘But for me the rule of law is much more than just money. It directly impacts on the quality of all our lives. It goes to the root of a civilised existence.’
He was making a keynote address to the world-renowned Oxford Union.
It came during the Oxford stage of the two week long Small Countries Financial Management Programme.
The first week of the pionering event took place in the Isle of Man and saw 24 men and women come from as far afield as the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean and Africa. They were finance officials from small nations.
They were in the audience as Deemster Doyle said: ‘Without the rule of law, anarchy would prevail. Rights and responsibilities would not be determined by independent judges within a fair public hearing but by the use of physical force, by seedy behind-the-scenes meetings, by grubby secret telephone calls and by corruption.
‘So the existence of the rule of law in a country can provide stability that undoubtedly encourages investment from internal and external sources because there is the expectation that the investor will be protected by an independent judiciary applying laws that ensure fairness.
‘Equally, the very existence of the rule of law provides every citizen with an expectation of fairness that potentially fuels his belief in lasting self-betterment through education, work, wealth and liberty that cannot unfairly be taken away.
‘So in the broadest sense, the existence of the rule of law provides the vital reassurance and motivation needed by individuals, businesses and investors to stimulate economic growth.
‘If the citizens of a country believe the rule of law can only be accessed by a small number of the privileged elite they will lose the motivation to strive for better. Ultimately this will be because they feel certain that any success will be short lived without the rule of law to protect them. In situations like this they must either knuckle under and do nothing, or step outside the law … here starts anarchy.’
He added that it was essential that every individual citizen can be assured of fair treatment.
And the motivation of the individual is the economic engine of every country. Individual success leads to national prosperity.
He warned: ‘Until a country has a legal system enabling property to be protected, and contracts to be enforced, real economic progress, shared by all members of the community, is not possible.’
He went on to say the motivation of the individual and inbound investment are vital for prosperity, but so is collaboration between nations, and that too is only possible with the common foundation stone of the rule of law.
He pointed out that only two years ago the General Assembly of the United Nations held its first ever high level meeting on the rule of law.
In a direct message to the programme participants Deemster Doyle said: ‘At a time when so many nations are cutting back in an attempt to demonstrate economic prudence, I would urge you not to cut back on the structures and processes that support the rule of law. Often it is at the very moment when economic times are tight that extra care must be taken to ensure that the fundamental rights of people, especially vulnerable people, are respected and maintained.’
The leading judge concluded: ‘I would ask that all politicians and other decision-makers worldwide learn to love the rule of law. In fact, let’s all change our status and tell the world that we are in a positive relationship with the rule of law. We must cultivate a love for the rule of law.
‘So let us be excited, happy and passionate about the rule of law.
‘Let us adore it, embrace it, nurture it, protect it and respect the rule of law. Much as it is essential for economic growth it is also essential for a decent and dignified human existence’.