The Rule of Law and the Legal System
Law and the legal system were at the very heart of perestroika and glasnost’ in two respects during the period 1986–91: as objects of reform themselves and as vehicles of reform in all realms of political, socioeconomic and cultural life. The same will be true of the Commonwealth-building era, whatever directions it ultimately takes. No reform of consequence fails to affect the legal system or to rely upon law for its ultimate success and even implementation. A principal objective of perestroika was the creation of, initially, a ‘socialist rule-of-law state’ (sotsialisticheskoe pravovoe gosudarstvo); the reference to ‘socialist’ was dropped by 1989, but devotion to the rule-oflaw state was reaffirmed by the leaders of the Commonwealth in their foundation documents confirmed in December 1991. This signals the continuation of a momentous debate about the role of law within the members of the Commonwealth and about the nature of Commonwealth law itself that will affect the structure, powers and role of the legal profession, the courts and law enforcement agencies.
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