Wednesday, April 20, 2011

World Justice Project Releases Rule of Law Index

The World Justice Project last week released its first annual Rule of Law Index, a report measuring 35 countries' adherence to the rule of law. 

The Index defines "rule of law" around four "universal principles":

1.  The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the rule of law;

2.  The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.

3.  The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.

4.  Access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives, and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

The Index measures "rule of law" by way of 10 factors (more information on how each is measured in the report):

1.  Limited government powers.

2.  Absence of corruption.

3.  Clear, publicized, and stable laws.

4.  Order and security.

5.  Fundamental rights.

6.  Open government.

7.  Regulatory enforcement.

8.  Access to civil justice.

9.  Effective criminal justice.

10.  Informal justice.

Among 11 countries designated "high income," the United States ranked best (3 out of 11) in open government and worst (11 out of 11) in access to civil justice.  It ranked somewhere in the middle of this group in the other 8 categories.  Other high income countries in the Index include Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, and Sweden.

Agree or disagree with the conclusions, the Index is certainly worth a look.  The World Justice Project put it together based on interviews with over 35,000 people and 900 experts in the 35 countries studied.  There's a good deal of data here, and the Index only promises to improve with future versions.

SDS

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