The World Justice Project (WJP) just released its Rule of Law Index, which provides original, impartial data on how the rule of law is experienced by the general public in 102 countries around the globe. The Index measures how the rule of law is experienced in everyday situations by people around the world. Effective rule of law helps reduce corruption, improve public health, enhance education, alleviate poverty, and protect people from injustices. Where the rule of law is weak, however, medicine fails to reach health facilities, criminal violence goes unchecked, and laws are applied unequally across societies, affecting people’s daily lives and future prospects.
The WJP defines the rule of law as a system where the following four universal principles are upheld: (i) the government, individuals and private entities are equally accountable under the law; (ii) the laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property; (iii) the process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient; and (iv) justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives. The WJP assesses a country’s performance by applying these principles to eight factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice. WSJ publishes an interactive index online showing the analysis of all eight factors by country.
After extensive surveying and analysis, the WJP ranked Denmark as the top scoring country for 2015. Rounding out the top five are Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands. These countries were shown to have the most effective rule of law when considering all eight factors. The bottom five – the countries with the weakest rule of law – are, in order: Pakistan, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and, coming in at last place, Venezuela. The United States did not fare as well as we would hope, coming in 19th place, just below France and above the Czech Republic.
The WJP hopes to draw attention to the way the rule of law is experienced in each country in order to encourage countries to improve the lives of its citizens. The WJP stressed that “effective rule of law…is the foundation for communities of peace, opportunity, and equity — underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.”
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