Image from "Ruby's Story" on the International Justice Mission's website
Photo from Ruby's Story, Credit: International Justice Mission®

For civil society organizations working to advance human rights, justice, anti-corruption and more, the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index provides critical context for 142 countries and jurisdictions.  

The International Justice Mission (IJM) uses the Index in their work to end modern-day slavery. During the 2023 Index launch, Samson Inocencio, IJM’s regional vice president for Asia Pacific, joined other leaders to explain how. We spoke further with him to learn how the rule of law and the Index help IJM fight violence against people living in poverty. 


WJP: Why do you think the rule of law is important given the work that the International Justice Mission does? 

Inocencio: Through our work alongside justice systems around the world we have seen firsthand how crimes like modern day slavery and violence against women and children thrive in the absence of a rule of law. People in poverty are especially vulnerable to these crimes when perpetrators have no fear of accountability. Rule of law is critical for making the protection and access to justice the norm for everyone. 


WJP: Overall, the WJP Rule of Law Index shows that the rule of law has been declining globally, that is, in a majority of countries, for several years. What makes you believe that turning the tide is both necessary and possible? 

Inocencio: IJM has seen the prevalence of crimes like trafficking decrease between 50 and 86 percent in places where we have supported authorities to enforce laws that protect people from violent abuse. Access to justice has been made possible where protection afforded by rule of law has been made a reality—and that gives us tangible hope that change is indeed possible. 


WJP: How do you think the Index can help civil society organizations advance their work? 

Inocencio: The Index provides a unique, accessible and holistic picture of the global status of rule of law, and the factors impeding it. It gives a credible standard that global organizations like ours to rely on, providing important insights that support us as we achieve our goals.   


WJP: That’s wonderful to hear. Can you tell us how IJM thinks about our data? 

Inocencio: We see that when laws are enforced, impunity ends, and violent abuse dramatically decreases. The Index supports IJM’s understanding of country-contexts and significantly informs decision-making in our programs. Whether we are scoping newer jurisdictions or understanding challenges impeding success in countries with existing programs, the Index is invaluable. 


WJP: What are the tangible benefits for the people you serve when the rule of law is strengthened?  

Inocencio: Here’s why we care about rule of law - Ruby is a sixteen-year-old girl who was trafficked and repeatedly abused while western sex offenders watched live over the internet. Fortunately, Ruby was brought to safety by police and her traffickers received significant sentences. 

Today, Ruby is a survivor and advocate who petitions governments around the world to create legislation to protect children from abuse and online harm. Ruby knows the power of effective rule of law and she’s inviting all of us to be part of making it a priority everywhere. 

Strengthening rule of law would mean children, women and men around the world are protected from some of the most brutal forms of violence whether there is a child being brought to safety from sexual exploitation, or a woman receiving justice after being abused by her husband, or whole families being released from force labor, they can live life with hope, dignity and freedom. 

And what’s more—perpetrators realize they can no longer get away with it, which stops people being abused in the first place. 



Watch quick takes on how—and why—Kenya, Honduras, the World Bank, and IJM all use the Index:

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