Vilnius Institute for Advanced Studies sees law as the framework within which societies function, a set of rules that actually cover all aspects of our lives. The whole fabric of society rests on the cornerstones of human rights and the principles of justice. They’re the fundamental values that sustain humanity, enable democracy to function and serve as the engine of economic prosperity.
Lithuania is on a long and winding road to the rule of law. While Lithuania was the first nation in Europe to introduce professional legislation and codification with the first Statuta Lituaniae in 1529, and the country that, together with Poland, drafted and promulgated the first constitution in Europe on 3 May 1791, it has spent two thirds of the last century under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in which human rights were disregarded. The creation of an independent and just legal system after the restoration of independence was an exciting and challenging process that culminated in the re-codification of most of the entire legal system – the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Labour Code, the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Criminal Procedure, all of which were adopted in just two years 2000-2002. Building a system that guarantees human rights after 50 years of total disregard for them has required a great political and intellectual effort.
One must always bear in mind that a law without a well-functioning institutional system to enforce it is a dead letter. The construction of the institutional system of public administration in Lithuania is a process that deserves its own analysis. And the structure of state mechanisms attracts research attention. The constitutional structure of the state is very specific: the president, the parliament and the government have the same political powers, so a specific system of checks and balances comes into play, which constantly attracts the attention of society.