Thursday, 13 April 2017
The role of law in the 21st century
THE ROLE OF LAW IN THE 21ST CENTURY
The 21st century comes with challenges which ordinarily would be impossible to tackle without the use of a coherent and coercive mechanism. The century comes with sophistication. The role of law in the society is to ensure peace, order, and to do justice in every stance. In the 21st century law has been turned into a sophisticated instrument owing to the fact that the century itself is sophisticated. The rate and standard of crime in the 21st century society cannot be likened to those that were prevalent in the past centuries. The advancement of the society and everything therein makes it expedient for the law that will have binding effort to be raised to that standard.
WHAT IS LAW?
Technically, law is “a rule or body of rules made by institutions, bodies and persons vested with the power to make such rules which are binding and enforced among the members of a given state or society.” Law is something that is binding and affects the life of the members of a given society. Any society in which human beings associate for any length of time requires some mechanism to secure this collective stability which will further concretize into the social relationship that will keep such society in existence. Law is an instrument used in ruling and keeping the society to be and remain together. It has a coercive power to ensure that everyone living in a society conforms to the provisions therein. By nature law is normative, coercive, and a body of rule which must be observed to the letter.
In the words of Sir William Blackstone, law “is the rules of action which is prescribed by some superior and which the inferior is bound obey.” In this regard the purported inferior are not necessarily and literally inferior, and vice versa, rather, it is an arrangement that the purported superior should make laws which shall be binding on the inferior buy the reason of the powers given to them (by the inferior) to do so. Such laws are seen to be supreme over every authority. The 21st century is not an exception in the practice of the supremacy of law however the century is thriving. All over the world laws are passed to salvage the society from different challenges that are thorns to the society. In the 21st century the various functions of law are being utilized in curbing and salvaging the century. Law is an instrument for regulating the society when the situation in the society is calamitous and unlawful.
LAWS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
It is apt to state ab initio that law, its functions and purpose has been duly utilized in some activities of the century. However, considering the seemingly lawless society and most commonly unlawful activities that thrives in the century one can opined pessimistically that law has been unuseful and thereby irrelevant for the society in the century.
Though, the ineffectiveness of law in the 21st century is obvious, this is not as a result f the unavailability of adequate provision to subject matters neither is the laws themselves defective. Rather, studies have shown that laws as enacted are in that effect useless as it is devoid of force and form. Its enforcement and practical application renders the beautiful provisions of the law ineffective, inefficient and useless, in the dearth of it. The enforcement of laws lies within the powers of the Enforcement Agencies saddled with such responsibility.
Another factor is the application of these laws as they have been enacted without compromise based on whatever might be considered exigent by the Agencies. Laws are to be visible in the daily practices of the society. The fact that laws has been rendered ineffective by its application, it is sufficient to applaud the role it has played in the century.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides for the Fundamental Rights of the citizens of the country in Chapter IV. Therein provided in the chapter are the rights to life, dignity of the human person, personal liberty, fair hearing, private and family life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of expression, etc. One of these rights is the right to freedom from discrimination as provided in section 42. This provision against discrimination also concerns discrimination based on sex. It is obvious the discrimination often directed toward women, particularly based on customary practices in the sharing in the estate of a deceased parent. Such discrimination which is by reason of the circumstances of the birth has been held to be repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. Later after this decision the discrimination has been drastically reduced to such minimum that it only exist in the mind and cannot be expressly displayed. Also, the discrimination against women in the public and civil services as well as attainment of public offices has been reduces owing to the laws which, to that effect has been enacted.
The role of law as a tool for social engineering is laudable. Law has been used to infrastructurally better the society in the 21st century. Government policies are directed toward the betterment of the society by initiating projects and programmes that are directed toward satisfying the social needs for amenities. The construction of good roads that makes transportation easy and making country sides accessible alleviates the difficulty in migration from rural areas to urban areas. The electrification of the rural areas and building of technical and educational centre are laudable government policies. They enable the reduction of illiteracy rate while the rate of manpower development is increased and sustained.
Technically it is expedient to appreciate the role of law in ensuring order in the society. By the imperative and coercive provisions of the law toward his end is one that always ensures that citizens living in an area always live orderly. Also, among citizens in the neighborhood the law prescribes and describes the kind of relationship that should exist for the sake of orderliness. This order is evident in the contractual relationship between fellow citizens and in the common market transaction; also the Labour law has been a key player in restoring order and sanctity in the labour market. Because “the war between the profit maker and the wage earner is always with us” the law of work−labour law is there to equalize the unbalanced power between the employer and the employee. This orderliness has thrived in the 21st century.
Law has also been the means to the end of justice. Prevalent resort to self-help and retribution by the citizens has been on the increase. It is the inadequate application “justice” which is meted on a wrongdoer by another who has been wronged basically under the heat of provocation. To this effect the law provides means through which justice can be done to the wronged, the wrongdoer and the state by the creation of agencies of arrest, prosecution and adjudication.
The century is actually sophisticated which demand that the law must be itself sophisticated to properly contend with the issues that concerns it. When there is justice, there will be peace and progress. The law aims to punish and an offender in proportion to guilt and the injury to a victim. In the case of R V Sussex Justices, ex-parte McCarthy it was stated therein that “it is not merely of some importance, but it is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.” It means that justice is nothing to intervene with.
In the 21st century law has conferred legitimacy on the government in power. This is possible when the process to acquire such power is done in line with the provision of the law without which such government in power will never be legitimate. Everything within a state is legitimate if it so declared by law and will fail to be so if the law does not confer legitimacy on them. The 21st century states have been established and the government therein conferred with legitimacy.
The 21st century is the most advanced time ever been. The society is more sophisticated than is has ever been, actions, behaviours that questions the existence of law, the aggravation of crime rate is a test for the efficiency and efficacy of the laws.
Law has played the role of providing for freedoms and Fundamental Rights of citizens and the Human Rights. It also has provided against discrimination against women, even balancing the inequilibrium in the employment relations between the employer and the employee this relationship ought to be balanced equitably.
Law has provided social amenities to better the standard of living technically and educationally. People in the society can through government policies and programmes develop their skills to better their living standard. Though laws are faced with the challenge of ineffective implementation and enforcement, it is expedient to comment the role law has played in the 21st century.