The real Rule of Law is substantive and encompasses many human rights requirements. It reflects the idea of equality in a substantive way: not just that no one is above the law, but that everyone is equal before and under the law, and is entitled to its equal protection and equal benefit.
Only this understanding of the Rule of Law would prevent a law being enacted to regulate the use of torture, for example. Under this substantive understanding of the rule of the law that would be impossible — no matter how well promulgated that law were, nor how equitably it were enforced. Properly understood in this fashion, the Rule of Law would also prohibit the enactment of a law that would deprive women of the right to vote, or otherwise offend fundamental human rights guarantees.
Under this substantive understanding of the Rule of Law, rules serve a higher purpose than the mere orderly regulation of human conduct; laws must also enhance liberty, security and equality and strive to attain a perfect coincidence between law and justice.
This is a tall agenda both at the national and the international level, but it is the one that the Rule of Law commands. It requires that laws be just, and justly enforced."
—A statement by Louise Arbour, President & CEO of the International Crisis Group, on the occasion of the High-level Meeting of the 67th Session of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law