The WJP Rule of Law Index® relies on more than 152,000 household and 3,400 expert surveys to measure how the rule of law is experienced and perceived in everyday life around the world.  

Performance is assessed through 44 indicators organized around 8 factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice. Note that data for Factor 9: Informal Justice is also collected, though it is not compared across countries and is therefore not included in the Index scores and rankings.  

Factor 1: Constraints on Government Powers

Constraints on Governments Powers (Factor 1 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) 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 agents are limited and held accountable under the law. It also includes non-governmental checks on the government’s power, such as a free and independent press. Governmental checks take many forms; they do not operate solely in systems marked by a formal separation of powers, nor are they necessarily codified in law. What is essential, however, is that authority is distributed, whether by formal rules or by convention, in a manner that ensures that no single organ of government has the practical ability to exercise unchecked power. This factor addresses the effectiveness of the institutional checks on government power by the legislature (1.1), the judiciary (1.2), and independent auditing and review agencies (1.3), as well as the effectiveness of non-governmental oversight by the media and civil society (1.5), which serve an important role in monitoring government actions and holding officials accountable. The extent to which transitions of power occur in accordance with the law is also examined (1.6). In addition to these checks, this factor also measures the extent to which government officials are held accountable for official misconduct (1.4).


1.1 Government powers are effectively limited by the legislature

1.2 Government powers are effectively limited by the judiciary

1.3 Government powers are effectively limited by independent auditing and review

1.4 Government officials are sanctioned for misconduct

1.5 Government powers are subject to non-governmental checks

1.6 Transition of power is subject to the law

Factor 2: Absence of Corruption

Absence of Corruption (Factor 2 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) 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 misappropriation of public funds or other resources. These three forms of corruption are examined with respect to government officers in the executive branch (2.1), the judiciary (2.2), the military and police (2.3), and the legislature (2.4), and encompass a wide range of possible situations in which corruption – from petty bribery to major kinds of fraud – can occur.   


2.1 Government officials in the Executive Branch do not use public office for private gain

2.2 Government officials in the judicial branch do not use public office for private gain

2.3 Government officials in the police and the military do not use public office for private gain

2.4 Government officials in the legislative branch do not use public office for private gain

Factor 3: Open Government

Open Government (Factor 3 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) measures open government defined as a government that shares information, empowers people with tools to hold the government accountable, and fosters citizen participation in public policy deliberations. The factor measures whether basic laws and information on legal rights are publicized, and evaluates the quality of information published by the government (3.1). It also measures whether requests for information held by a government agency are properly granted (3.2). Finally, it assesses the effectiveness of civic participation mechanisms–including the protection of freedoms of opinion and expression, assembly and association, and the right to petition (3.3), and whether people can bring specific complaints to the government (3.4).


3.1 Publicized laws and government data

3.2 Right to information

3.3 Civic participation

3.4 Complaint mechanisms

Factor 4: Fundamental Rights

Fundamental Rights (Factor 4 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) 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 “rule by law”, and does not deserve to be called a rule of law system. Since there are many other indices that address human rights, and as it would be impossible for the Index to assess adherence to the full range of rights, this factor focuses on a relatively modest menu of rights that are firmly established under the Universal Declaration and are most closely related to rule of law concerns. Accordingly, Factor 4 encompasses adherence to the following fundamental rights: effective enforcement of laws that ensure equal protection (4.1), the right to life and security of the person (4.2), due process of law and the rights of the accused (4.3), freedom of opinion and expression (4.4), freedom of belief and religion (4.5), the right to privacy (4.6), freedom of assembly and association (4.7), and fundamental labor rights, including the right to collective bargaining, the prohibition of forced and child labor, and the elimination of discrimination (4.8).


4.1 Equal treatment and absence of discrimination

4.2 The right to life and security of the person is effectively guaranteed

4.3 Due process of law and rights of the accused

4.4 Freedom of opinion and expression is effectively guaranteed

4.5 Freedom of belief and religion is effectively guaranteed

4.6 Freedom from arbitrary interference with privacy is effectively guaranteed

4.7 Freedom of assembly and association is effectively guaranteed

4.8 Fundamental labor rights are effectively guaranteed

Factor 5: Order and Security

Order and Security (Factor 5 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) 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 is also a precondition for the realization of the rights and freedoms that the rule of law seeks to advance. This factor includes three dimensions that cover various threats to order and security: crime (5.1 particularly conventional crime), political violence (5.2 including terrorism, armed conflict, and political unrest), and violence as a socially acceptable means to redress personal grievances (5.3 vigilante justice). 


5.1 Crime is effectively controlled

5.2 Civil conflict is effectively limited

5.3 People do not resort to violence to redress personal grievances

Factor 6: Regulatory Enforcement

Regulatory Enforcement (Factor 6 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) 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 government. Strong rule of law requires that these regulations and administrative provisions are enforced effectively (6.1) and are applied and enforced without improper influence by public officials or private interests (6.2). Additionally, strong rule of law requires that administrative proceedings are conducted timely, without unreasonable delays (6.4), that due process is respected in administrative proceedings (6.3), and that there is no expropriation of private property without adequate compensation (6.5).

This factor does not assess which activities a government chooses to regulate, nor does it consider how much regulation of a particular activity is appropriate. Rather, it examines how regulations are implemented and enforced. To facilitate comparisons, this factor considers areas that all countries regulate to one degree or another, such as public health, workplace safety, environmental protection, and commercial activity.


6.1 Government regulations are effectively enforced

6.2 Government regulations are applied and enforced without improper influence

6.3 Administrative proceedings are conducted without unreasonable delay

6.4 Due process is respected in administrative proceedings

6.5 The Government does not expropriate without lawful process and adequate compensation

Factor 7: Civil Justice

Civil Justice (Factor 7 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) 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 be accessible and affordable (7.1), free of discrimination (7.2), free of corruption (7.3), and without improper influence by public officials (7.4).  The delivery of effective civil justice also necessitates that court proceedings are conducted in a timely manner and not subject to unreasonable delays (7.5). Finally, recognizing the value of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms (ADRs), this factor also measures the accessibility, impartiality, and efficiency of mediation and arbitration systems that enable parties to resolve civil disputes (7.7). 


7.1 People can access and afford civil justice

7.2 Civil justice is free of discrimination

7.3 Civil justice is free of corruption

7.4 Civil justice is free of improper government influence

7.5 Civil justice is not subject to unreasonable delay

7.6 Civil justice is effectively enforced

7.7 Alternative Dispute and Resolution Mechanisms are accessible, impartial, and effective

Factor 8: Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice (Factor 8 of the WJP Rule of Law Index) 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 bring action against individuals for offenses against society. Effective criminal justice systems are capable of investigating and adjudicating criminal offenses successfully and in a timely manner (8.1 and 8.2), through a system that is impartial and non-discriminatory (8.4), and is free of corruption and improper government influence (8.5 and 8.6), all while ensuring that the rights of both victims and the accused are effectively protected (8.7).  The delivery of effective criminal justice also necessitates correctional systems that effectively reduce criminal behavior (8.3). Accordingly, an assessment of the delivery of criminal justice should take into consideration the entire system, including the police, the lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and prison officers. 


8.1 Criminal investigation system is effective

8.2 Criminal adjudication system is timely and effective

8.3 Correctional system is effective in reducing criminal behavior

8.4 Criminal system is impartial

8.5 Criminal system is free of corruption

8.6 Criminal system is free of improper government influence

8.7 Due process of the law and rights of the accused

Factor 9: Informal Justice

Informal Justice* concerns the role played in many countries by customary and ‘informal’ systems of justice – including traditional, tribal, and religious courts, and community-based systems – in resolving disputes. These systems often play a large role in cultures in which formal legal institutions fail to provide effective remedies for large segments of the population, or when formal institutions are perceived as remote, corrupt, or ineffective. This factor covers three concepts: whether these dispute resolution systems are timely and effective (9.1), whether they are impartial and free of improper influence (9.2), and the extent to which these systems respect and protect fundamental rights (9.3)  


9.1 Informal justice is timely and effective  
9.2 Informal justice is impartial and free of improper influence
9.3 Informal justice respects and protects fundamental rights  

* Informal Justice is not included in the WJP Rule of Law Index. While WJP has devoted significant effort to collecting data on informal justice in a dozen countries, the complexities of these systems and the difficulties of measuring their fairness and effectiveness in a manner that is both systematic and comparable across countries, make assessments extraordinarily challenging. That is why although we have collected data on this dimension, they are not included in the aggregated Index scores and rankings.