What is the Rule of Law?

Derived from internationally accepted standards, the World Justice Project’s definition of the rule of law is a system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

  1. The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; 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. Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

These four universal principles are further developed in the following nine factors of the WJP Rule of Law Index, which measures how the rule of law is experienced by ordinary people in 99 countries around the globe.


Constraints on Government Powers

Factor 1 measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law. It comprises the means, both constitutional and institutional, by which the powers of the government and its officials and...
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Absence of Corruption

Factor 2 measures the absence of corruption in a number of government agencies. The factor considers three forms of corruption: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and...
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Open Government

Please note: We have just launched the WJP Open Government Index 2015, please visit our report web page for the latest WJP open...
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Fundamental Rights

Factor 4 measures the protection of fundamental human rights. It recognizes that a system of positive law that fails to respect core human rights established under international law is at best “...
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Order and Security

Factor 5 measures how well the society assures the security of persons and property. Security is one of the defining aspects of any rule of law society and a fundamental function of the state. It...
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Regulatory Enforcement

Factor 6 measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced. Regulations, both legal and administrative, structure behaviors within and outside of the...
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Civil Justice

Factor 7 measures whether ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effectively through the civil justice system. The delivery of effective civil justice requires that the system...
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Criminal Justice

Factor 8 evaluates the criminal justice system. An effective criminal justice system is a key aspect of the rule of law, as it constitutes the conventional mechanism to redress grievances and...
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Informal Justice

Finally, Factor 9 concerns the role played in many countries by customary and ‘informal’ systems of justice – including traditional, tribal, and religious courts, and community-...
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