IATE Term of the Week: rule of law


This week, the parliamentary session took place in Strasbourg. On the agenda, the Members of the European Parliament discussed, among many other issues, the assassination of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb on October 16. The agenda of the MEPs reported the calling into question of the rule of law in Malta, a member of the European Union since 2004. For this reason, rule of law has been chosen as this week’s IATE Term of the Week.

In IATE, the term is defined as the “principle that power should be exercised according to mutually understood rules and procedures that are applicable to all members of a polity, including officers of the state”.




The text issued by European lawmakers, which was subjected to vote on November 14, states that “developments in Malta in recent years have led to serious concerns about the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights, including freedom of the media and the independence of the police and the judiciary”. Rule of law could be considered as a concept that stands between justice and public order; this concept is confirmed by the definition of the World Justice Project, which considers the concept as having four universal pillars:

  • Accountability
  • Laws
  • Open government
  • Accessibility and Impartiality

According to the UN, the term rule of law refers to “a principle of governance in which all persons, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards”.

This is the complete entry provided by our database IATE:




Thank you for reading our Term of the Week, see you next Friday with another term!


rule of law



  • Open Society Foundations, official website, available here  (accessed on November 16, 2017)
  • World Justice Project, official website, available here (accessed on November 16, 2017)
  • Plenary agenda of the European Parliament, available here (accessed on November 15, 2017)
  • United Nations, official website, available here (accessed on November 15, 2017)


Written by Carolina Quaranta – Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. Completed a Master in Public and Political Communication in the University of Torino, Italy; communication specialist and journalist.