Skip to content Skip to navigation

Annual Lecture on Human Rights: Reclaiming the Rule of Law

Jun 3 2019

The “Rule of Law” is in rhetorical vogue. Around the world, it is claimed by democrats and authoritarians alike to validate their actions. Here at home, advocates on both sides of debates about immigration and climate change, trade and abortion, all cast their causes in rule of law terms. The media reports all of this credulously and without much scrutiny, as though the rule of law is whatever anyone says it is. Paradoxically, the popularity of the “rule of law” risks eroding its content and undermining this critical bulwark for the protection of human rights. This year’s annual human rights lecture will highlight work of the World Justice Project to respond by defining and measuring the rule of law with its global Rule of Law Index. What is the rule of law and how does it relate to human rights? What rule of law trends do we see globally and in the United States? What implications does the weaponization of “rule of law” rhetoric have for human rights, and what can we do about it?

Our speaker, Elizabeth "Betsy" Andersen, is Executive Director of the World Justice Project, leading its global efforts to advance the rule of law through research, strategic convenings, and support for innovative programs.  Ms. Andersen has more than 20 years of experience in the international legal arena, having served previously as Director of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and its Europe and Eurasia Division (previously known as the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative or ABA CEELI), as Executive Director of the American Society of International Law, and as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia Division. 

Ms. Andersen is an expert in international human rights law, international criminal law, and transitional justice, and she has taught these subjects as an adjunct professor at the American University Washington College of Law. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Williams College as well as on the governing and advisory boards of several international non-profit organizations. She is the recipient of a number of awards for her work in the international rule of law field, including a Williams College Bicentennial Medal, the American Society of International Law Prominent Woman in International Law Award, and the Case Western University Law School Humanitarian Award.

Our moderator, Professor Beth Van Schaack, is the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School and a faculty fellow with the Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice.