Thursday, June 23, 2011

World Justice Project Releases Second Annual Rule of Law Index

Last week, the World Justice Project released its second annual Rule of Law Index.  According to the WJP's website, the Index is a "quantitative assessment tool designed . . . to offer a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice." This year's Index includes 66 countries.  It "consists of 9 factors and 52 sub-factors, organized under the following set of four principles, or bands, which constitute the WJP definition of the rule of law:

  1. The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the 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."

Not surprisingly, countries in North American and Western Europe tend to rank high in the Index as countries that do a pretty good job of adhering to the rule of law.  However, the report chastises four countries: Austria, Canada, Norway and the United States for not doing enough to provide access to legal counsel.  The Index also states that police discrimination against ethnic minorities and foreigners remains a problem in many North American and Western European countries.

In Eastern and Central Europe, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic scored the highest marks, while significant concerns are expressed regarding Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

In Latin America, Chile leads the region with Brazil in second place.  El Salvadore and Guatamala have much more mixed records.

Also not surprisingly, in East Asia and the Pacific, wealthier nations such as New Zealand, Australia and Japan receive relatively high marks, while Malaysia and Vietnam present a more mixed picture.  Cambodia scores lowest in the region.

On average, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia rank lowest by region in terms of adherence to the rule of law.  The Index only covers three countries in South Asia, however: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all of whom face challenges in this area to varying degrees.  With respect to sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa performed best, followed by Ghana.  Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda are singled out as areas of significant concern.

More information and the 2011 WJP Index may be found here.


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