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Law Day
May 1

For thousands of years, societies have imposed rules or "laws" that tell people what they can and cannot do. Without rules, anyone could do whatever they wanted, even if it hurt others and disrupted society. Greek philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle described this as the "rule of men" versus the "rule of law." Others pointed out the important difference between "rule of law" and "rule by law." With "rule by law", governments can make up any rules they wish and are above the law. With "rule of law" everyone must obey the law.

It is ironic that in a democracy where all are free and enjoy equal rights, we must also have equal responsibilities so that the rights and freedom of others are protected. However, in a democracy, laws must also be fair, clearly defined, and applied equally to all members of the society -- both citizens and rulers.

Nations have long relied on treaties and other legal agreements to help them get along better. In the past century, with two global wars taking place, the need for a more comprehensive set of international laws became more apparent. International bodies, like the League of Nations and then the United Nations, were created in order to provide a forum for countries to work together. An important part of the UN Charter adopted in 1945 was the establishment of the International Court of Justice at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands to help settle legal disputes between nations. In 2002, the International Criminal Court was established to prosecute individuals for genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity. More than 100 nations are members and 41 others have signed but not yet ratified the treaty, but 3 major powers - China, India and the United States - have refused to participate.

Law Day, celebrated on May 1, is an opportunity to bring attention to the importance of the rule of law as a necessary foundation for democracy.

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DO ONE THING for a Better World

1. Find out more about your local, state, national and international laws.

2. Write to national leaders urging them to support the International Criminal Court.

3. Support organizations working to ensure that all receive equal protections and accountability under our laws, including leaders.


Law Day - American Bar Association
ABA - Rule of Law Initiative
American Civil Liberties Union
American Society of International Law
Center for the Rule of Law
International Bar Association
International Court of Justice
International Criminal Court
International Rule of Law Directory
UN - International Law
US Institute for Peace - Rule of Law Program
World Federalist Movement & The Rule of Law

LAW Quotes



Law Day

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Law Day-May 1

Louise Arbour

Oscar Arias


Roger Nash Baldwin

Jimmy Carter

George Clooney

William Sloane Coffin

Waris Dirie

Dorothea Dix

Justice William O. Douglas

Albert Einstein

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Daniel Ellsberg

Benjamin Ferencz

William Lloyd Garrison

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Dorothy Height

Bianca Jagger

Thomas Jefferson

Van Jones

Chief Joseph

John F. Kennedy

Irene Khan

Martin Luther King

Susette LaFlesche

Li Zhaoxing

John Locke

Belva Ann Lockwood

Ramon Magsaysay

Justice Thurgood Marshall

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Adlai Stevenson

Bertha von Suttner

Mary Burnett Talbert

Walt Whitman

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DO ONE THING and BetterWorld Kids Clubs are projects of The EMILY Fund (The Emily Silverstein Fund, Inc.)
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