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New Zealand ranks 8th in world for rule of law

03 November 2016

New Zealand ranked eighth out of 113 countries surveyed in the sixth annual Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project.

This was down from sixth out of 103 countries surveyed in 2015.

Nordic countries topped the 2016 index, with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden taking out the top four spots.

New Zealand was the top ranked country in the East Asia and Pacific Region, followed by Singapore.

World Justice Project says New Zealand’s government agencies courts are “efficient, transparent, and free of corruption” while constraints on government powers are effective and fundamental powers are strongly protected.

However, while the WJP says New Zealand’s judicial system is independent and effective, it adds there are relative weaknesses in the areas of accessibility of civil justice for marginalised populations.

New Zealand’s ranking for criminal justice fell to 13th in 2016 (from a previous ranking of 8th)  with WJP saying effectiveness of criminal investigations and equal treatment of criminal suspects stand out as areas in need of attention.

The criteria

WSP says the index measures rule of law based on the experiences and perceptions of the general public and in-country experts worldwide. It provides scores and rankings based on eight factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice.

“Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease and protects people from injustices large and small. It is the foundation for communities of peace, opportunity and equity – underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights,” WJP says in the report accompanying the 2016 index.

World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, Top 10, 2016
CountryScore*Global RankingRank Change from 2015
Denmark0.891unchanged
Norway0.882unchanged
Finland0.873+1
Sweden0.864-1
Netherlands0.865unchanged
Germany0.836+2
Austria0.837unchanged
New Zealand0.838-2
Singapore0.829unchanged
United Kingdom0.8110+2


*Scores range from 0 to 1, with 1 indicating the strongest adherence to the rule of law. Scoring is based on answers drawn from a representative sample of 1,000 respondents in the three largest cities per country and a set of in-country legal practitioners and academics.

New Zealand Scores and ranking, World Justice Project, Rule of Law Index 2016
CategoryFactor Score2016 Global Rank2015 Global Rank
Constrains on Government powers0.8668
Absence of corruption0.9066
Open Government0.8462
Fundamental Rights0.82109
Order and Security0.861515
Regulatory Enforcement0.8285
Civil Justice0.78119
Criminal Justice0.75138

Last updated on the 16th September 2019