Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



ethics and professionalism, governance and law, International law, international public service, international rule of law, public service, rule of law


While the idea of public service independence and its relationship to the rule of law has received significant recognition in the Canadian context, it raises the question of whether an analogous set of ethical norms operate at the international level, in settings such as the United Nations and its agencies, the European Commission and other settings of multilateral governance. Is an independent, global or multilateral public service a necessary precondition for an international rule of law? By what mechanisms does the operation of bureaucracy in multilateral governance strengthen (or erode) the international rule of law?In this brief paper, we examine the ethics and professionalism of the international public service – the individuals who collectively comprise the international organizations (“IO”s) that exercise authority through the auspices of entities recognized by international law – and reflect on the potential of the operation of such ethics and professionalism to define and enhance the concept of the international rule of law.


This paper was prepared for the Workshop "Ethical Supports For Strengthening The International Rule of Law", Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, October 19, 2009.