Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Rights, Responsibility, Law and Order in 21st Century's Civil Disobedience

Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Rights, Responsibility, Law and Order in 21st Century's Civil Disobedience

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article seeks to examine and consider- albeit in outline - the nature of an individual's rights, responsibility and obligation to obey valid law. The fundamental question in this regard lies in the extent to which citizens should be coerced into obedience to unjust laws' for example; if the law in question deprives them of their human rights. The study therefore, attempts to answer the following questions on the chosen subject: Are there an absolute right, responsibility and obligation to obey the law irrespective of the quality of the law? Is the duty only prima facie? Is there a duty to disobey the law in pursuit of a higher ideal or in pursuit of human rights? Each of these vast and timeless philosophical questions underpins the concepts of rights responsibility and the rule of law in 21st century civil disobedience. The study is based on a review of relevant literature and compilation of other available information on the rule of law. Leaning on Professor Dworkin's theory, the study concludes that the appropriate response of the State to act of civil disobedience is a difficult matter because in situations like this it is of paramount importance for the state to take into consideration and to respect the opinion of the citizens and society in general especially where even the contentious issue is unconstitutional.

Keywords: human rights, individual's right, civil disobedience, responsibility, rule of law

1. Introduction

The study of rights, responsibility and the rule of law in the twenty first century represent one of the most challenging concepts of the constitution because according to Aristotle where laws do not rule, there is no constitution. (Note 1) The study of rights, responsibility and the rule of law are concepts, which are capable of different interpretation by different people, and it is this feature, which renders an understanding of the doctrines elusive. Of all constitutional concepts, rights, responsibility and the rule of law are also the most subjective and value laden. The apparent uncertainties in the study of rights, responsibility and the rule of law and their variable nature should not cause concern, although, inevitably, they may cause some insecurity. In the study of rights, responsibility and the rule of law, it is more important to recognise and appreciate the many rich and varied interpretations which have been given to them, and to recognise the potential of rights, responsibility and the rule of law for ensuring limited governmental responsibility, power and protection of individual rights, in other to be able to offer an authoritative, definitive explanation of the concepts. The problem of rights, responsibility and the rule of law has never been more important than it has been in the twenty first century civil disobedience around the world. For example, the Arab Spring and Ukrainian up rising etc are just sample examples of the impact of the importance of the meaning of rights, responsibility and the rule of law in the twenty first century.

Rights, responsibility and the rule of law in twenty first century civil disobedience may be interpreted either as a philosophy or political theory, which lays down fundamental requirements for law. The rule of law in particular may also be seen as a procedural device in which those with power rule under the law. The essence of rights, responsibility and the rule of law are that of the sovereignty or supremacy of law over man and as such should be respected especially by those in authority. The rule of law in particular insists that every person - irrespective of rank and status in society - be subject to the law. For the citizen, the rule of law is both prescriptive - dictating the conduct required by law - and protective of citizens - demanding that government acts be accordance to the law. This central theme recurs whether the doctrine is examined from the perspective of philosophy, or political theory, or from the more pragmatic vantage point of the rule of law as a procedural device. …

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