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.
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.
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.
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.