In 1948, the nations of the world united in a common mission – to make sure another global catastrophe like World War II could never happen again. 

The newly formed United Nations pursued an ambitious vision to recognize the inherent dignity of every person on the planet.  

That vision became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides guiding principles for governments to honor and protect citizens. 

A modern scorecard for human rights  

“As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, most countries are falling short on upholding its promise,” said Elizabeth Andersen, executive director of the World Justice Project (WJP). 

At the recent launch event for the 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index, Andersen explained that new Index data shows that both fundamental rights and overall rule of law have declined in more than three-quarters of countries since 2016.  

Since 2016, fundamental rights have declined in more than three-quarters of countries in the WJP Rule of Law Index.
Since 2016, fundamental rights have declined in more than three-quarters of countries in the WJP Rule of Law Index.

In designing the Index, the World Justice Project drew directly on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, Article 2 of the Declaration is the basis for the Index subfactor 4.1, which measures whether people receive equal treatment, free from discrimination.  

The 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index shows that the vast majority of countries have declined in 7 of the 8 subfactors measured by its Factor 4, Fundamental Rights. Each of these subfactors is based on principles laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Protections for fundamental rights are declining widely
Core human rights protections have declined around the world. 

Additionally, the Index subfactor to decline most widely around the world is also grounded in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Civic participation has declined in 83% of countries since the global rule of law recession began in 2016.  

Civic participation declined in 83% of countries in the Index from 2016-2023
Since 2016, civic participation has declined in 83% of countries.  

Andersen noted that respect for human rights is a major part of what distinguishes “rule of law” from “rule by law.” 

“The law itself must be just, and it must protect people’s rights,” she said. ‘“For the rule of law to prevail, countries around the world must recommit to protecting human rights.” 

The WJP Rule of Law Index is the world’s leading source of original, independent rule of law data. The latest edition covers 142 countries and jurisdictions and 95% of the global population. 

Fundamental Rights is one of the eight rule of law factors the Index measures. 

Top and bottom ranked countries on fundamental rights in the 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index.
The top 5 and bottom 5 ranked countries in fundamental rights in the 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index. 

Explore the WJP Rule of Law Index. 

title bar

Read More

title bar
Alejandro Gonzalez Arreola addresses a panel of experts at WJP Mexico's Open Justice Metric launch

The World Justice Project (WJP) is pleased to announce that WJP Mexico Country Office Director Alejandro González Arreola has been named the global organization’s next Chief Engagement Officer. In his new Washington-D.C.-based role, Alejandro will build, strengthen, and support WJP’s global network of rule of law stakeholders; lead global policy engagement, advocacy initiatives, and campaigns on rule of law topics; and spearhead WJP’s work to advance the rule of law through strategic convenings, including the World Justice Forum.  

Read More
Image from "Ruby's Story" on the International Justice Mission's website

The International Justice Mission (IJM) uses the World Justice Project Rule of Law 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. 

Read More