World Justice Challenge 2024: The Rule of Law: Foundation of Democracy

The World Justice Project is pleased to announce the 2024 World Justice Challenge, focused on “The Rule of Law: Foundation of Democracy.” The Challenge competition seeks to identify, promote, and support changemakers who are pursuing effective strategies for strengthening the rule of law to reverse autocracy and rebuild trust in democratic governance.

 

Problem Statement:

The rule of law provides a critical underpinning for democracy. While democracy establishes who exercises power and decision making, rule of law guides critical concerns about how that power is exercised, reinforcing democratic societies’ ability to realize key principles of representation, participation, equality, and accountability. Strong rule of law thereby helps sustain democracies beyond elections and establishes the rules that allow democratic institutions and processes to flourish. It ensures that citizens can hold their leaders accountable, that the transition of government power is subject to the law, that elected officials do not use their office for private gain, and that people can know and understand the law and have access to justice to uphold their rights and resolve disputes peacefully.

In recent years, rule of law and democracy have each experienced worrying global recessions. According to the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index, 2023 was the sixth year in a row in which more countries declined than improved in their rule of law performance. Since the global rule of law recession began in 2016, the rule of law has weakened in 78% of countries covered by the Index. Those declines have been driven by growing authoritarian trends, including fewer checks and balances, shrinking civic space, diminished governmental accountability, and eroded protection of fundamental rights. Meanwhile, justice systems have weakened in over 70% of countries, leaving an estimated 5.1 billion people globally without access to justice to solve their legal problems. Measurements of democracy have observed similar downturns. Democratic freedom has declined globally every consecutive year since 2005, and closed autocracies now outnumber liberal democracies for the first time in more than two decades.

While the global trends are sobering, we are also seeing some positive developments. Some countries benefiting from committed, effective leadership in and out of government have seen progress during this period. It is critically important to learn from these examples and identify strategic, effective approaches that can bolster the rule of law foundation for democratic resilience. The World Justice Challenge is a global competition aimed at identifying, promoting, and supporting such promising practices and initiatives.

 

Guidelines for Applicants:

The World Justice Challenge encourages entries that address pressing rule of law problems and support democratic renewal. Awards will be made in the following issue categories:

  • Ensuring that electoral processes and transitions of government power are subject to the law
  • Building citizen trust in justice institutions and guaranteeing that justice systems are independent, impartial, accountable, transparent, and ethical
  • Protecting free media and a robust, trustworthy information ecosystem in the face of new challenges posed by 21st century technological change
  • Strengthening young people’s engagement with and commitment to rule of law and democracy processes and institutions
  • The U.S. Building Trust Prize for the project from the United States that demonstrates exceptional impact in one or more of the above categories

The World Justice Challenge welcomes entries that use diverse approaches to addressing these issues, including, but not limited to: civic education, public awareness, and engagement; advocacy; legal and regulatory reform; institutional strengthening; strategic litigation; election monitoring; voter information; political process monitoring; legal education and empowerment; research and data analytics; community dialogue; media and journalism; film and visual and performing arts; and technological innovation.