This is the fifth consecutive year in which the rule of law is assessed as having been weakened in more countries than those in which it improved. The World Justice Project (WJP) cites the growing number of authoritarian governments, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as a key reason for the rule of law’s decline in 61 per cent of countries surveyed.
The Rule of Law Index measures perceptions and experiences of the rule of law across 140 jurisdictions around the world. The data used comes from surveys completed by over 154,000 households and 3,600 legal practitioners and experts. The index assesses eight factors:
- Constraints on government powers
- Absence of corruption
- Open government
- Fundamental rights
- Order and security
- Regulatory enforcement
- Civil justice
- Criminal justice
New Zealand performed strongly in the areas of constraints on government powers; absence of corruption; order and security; and regulatory enforcement. Civil and criminal justice were the lowest-scoring factors, with court delays caused by the impacts of COVID-19 contributing to this.
The WJP defines the rule of law as ‘a durable system of laws, institutions, norms and community commitments that delivers’ four universal principles: accountability, just law, open government, and accessible and impartial justice.
The World Justice Project is an international civil society organisation founded in 2006 as an initiative of the American Bar Association.