Justice-the Imperative of a Law-Based Civilization

Author: Valery ZORKIN

Abstract. Humankind's ability to meet the challenges of the modern era will depend on what idea of justice (if any) it will adopt as the main world-view benchmark in the historically foreseeable future. Is justice a legal phenomenon, which sums up the universally relevant result of rational and logical interpretation of social realities, or is justice a moral phenomenon that depends on the concrete historical and socio-cultural features of a particular society? This article argues that renunciation of the universally relevant legal approach to the interpretation of justice as equality in freedom is fraught with the imposition on the whole world (notably through modern information technologies) of one-sided ideas of justice anchored in Western moral values and meeting the interests of the most influential actors in the system of global relations. The author believes that the emerging dangerous trend toward ideological unipolarity in interpreting justice can be overcome through a synthesis of the values of individualism and solidarity. The concept of European consensus underlying the decisions and legal positions of the European Court of Human Rights is examined in the context of this approach.

Keywords: justice, law, trust, human rights, moral universals, European consensus, ideological unipolarity, individualism, solidarity values.

DOI: 10.31857/S013454860005120-0

The modern world is at a bifurcation point from which humanity may develop in one of several ways, some representing highly negative scenarios. The existential choice of humanity's path for the foreseeable future depends to a large extent on what idea of justice is adopted as the main worldview benchmark. This makes the discussion of the problem of justice in relation to law exceedingly relevant.


V. Zorkin, D. Sc. (Law), professor, President of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. This article is based on the lecture delivered at the 8th Petersburg International Legal Forum on May 18, 2018, and was first published in Russian in the journal Voprosy filosofii (2019, no. 1, ...

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