Rule of law

The rule of law basically means government according to established laws and principles which are not applied in arbitrary ways. Several specific problems impede the rule of law in Arab countries:

  • There is a tendency in most Arab countries to apply laws selectively and officials often exercise a wide measure of discretion in their application.

  • The powerful and wealthy can often influence the law to their own advantage – over-riding the principle that no one should be above the law.

  • Corruption and wasta (use of "connections", especially family ties) often lead to the law being circumvented.

  • There is a considerable degree of political control over the judiciary.

  • In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the law is not fully codified, resulting in inconsistent decisions by individual judges.

See also pages on corruption and wasta.