New Zealand ranks seventh of more than 100 countries in the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index for 2017-18.
The report measures the rule of law based on the experiences and perceptions of the general public and experts worldwide.
New Zealand’s score remains unchanged at 0.83 but has risen slightly due to Austria’s score dropping. It tops the East Asia and Pacific zone table.
However, New Zealand ranks below its overall ranking in fundamental rights (11th), criminal justice (14th) and order and security (16th).
The scores are particularly poor in criminal justice relating to lack of discrimination (0.61), effective investigations (0.63), and an effective correctional system (0.65).
Accessibility and affordability in the pursuit of civil justice also rates lowly (0.70).
New Zealand gains the maximum 1.00 for absence of conflict and comes close for absence of corruption in the judiciary (0.96).
As in 2016, the Scandinavian countries top the rankings, with Denmark again first, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. The Netherlands and Germany are both ahead of New Zealand. Australia is 10th.
Venezuela is ranked 113th and last, with Cambodia and Afghanistan also in the bottom three.
The scores and rankings are 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.
They are derived from more than 110,000 household surveys and 3,000 expert surveys in the 113 countries and jurisdictions.
New Zealand’s polling was conducted by Big Picture focusing on Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
“Strengthening the rule of law is a major goal of citizens, governments, donors, businesses, and civil society organizations around the world,” the report says.
“To be effective, rule of law development requires clarity about the fundamental features that define the rule of law, as well as an adequate basis for its evaluation and measurement.”