Global Trends in the Rule of Law

WJP research team members Alejandro Ponce, Alicia Evangelides, and Amy Gryskiewicz join WJP executive director Elizabeth Andersen to discuss the WJP Rule of Law Index 2020—an annual study of the state of the rule of law around the world. Following the recent launch of the 2020 Index, WJP's team of experts come together for a deep dive into what the WJP Rule of Law Index measures, how WJP gathers the data, and key insights into 2020 findings.


The WJP Rule of Law Index is the world's leading source for original, independent data on the rule of law. Covering 128 countries and jurisdictions, the Index relies on national surveys of more than 130,000 households and 4,000 legal practitioners and experts to measure how the rule of law is experienced and perceived worldwide. In this podcast, we discuss the following key findings for the 2020 report:

  1. There is a global decline in rule of law that permeates across all regions, and across all levels of economic development. 
  2. While Europe is still the region with the strongest rule of law overall, 50% of European countries covered in the WJP Rule of Law Index have declined in rule of law when compared to the last report.
  3. Countries are not always declining or improving and tend to fluctuate, however important changes tend to show up in the first year of a new transition in government.
  4. The United States fell out of the top 20 in the Index for the first time. This is mainly driven by a decline in Factor 1: Constraints on Government Powers.
  5. Hong Kong still displays strong rule of law despite protests driven by the 2019 extradition bill. In contrast, China has declined in rule of law over the last few years especially in Factor 1: Constraints on Government Powers. Thus protests in Hong Kong may not indicate objection to the rule of law conditions in Hong Kong specifically, but rather a objection to the rule of law conditions in mainland China and how Hong Kong's rule of law is affected by those conditions.

WJP Rule of Law Index Interactive Data

Explore rule of law interactive data, insights, and more in the WJP Rule of Law Index 2020.

Dr. Alejandro Ponce is the Chief Research Officer of the World Justice Project. He joined the WJP as Senior Economist and is one of the original designers and a lead author of the WJP Rule of Law Index. Dr. Ponce leads the research and data collection initiatives of the World Justice Project, from the administration of the WJP Rule of Law Index to the design and implementation of nationwide surveys in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the EU, and Mexico.

Alicia Evangelides is the Director for the Rule of Law Index at the World Justice Project. In this role, she oversees data collection and production of the WJP’s flagship Rule of Law Index report, which measures adherence to rule of law in 126 countries and jurisdictions worldwide. While on the research team, Alicia has also co-managed the administration of the WJP’s General Population Poll (GPP) in 126 countries and led special data collection efforts in Central America and the Caribbean. 

Amy Gryskiewicz joined the World Justice Project in 2014. As the Director for Criminal Justice Research, Amy currently leads the WJP's thematic research on global criminal justice indicators and country-specific research in Afghanistan. During her time on the research team, Amy previously managed the production of the annual WJP Rule of Law Index report and directed the data collection process for the Qualified Respondents Questionnaires (QRQ) in 126 countries and jurisdictions. Her interests include survey design, the evaluation of criminal justice institutions, and storytelling through data visualization.