Global slide in rule of law and justice

18th April 2019 / United Kingdom
Global slide in rule of law and justice

By TruePublica: The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index measures how the rule of law is experienced and perceived by the general public in 126 countries and jurisdictions worldwide based on more than 120,000 household and 3,800 expert surveys. Featuring primary data, the WJP Rule of Law Index measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.


With more countries declining than improving in their overall performance on the rule of law, the global trend towards authoritarianism should be viewed with concern, said WJP’s executive director, Elizabeth Andersen.

In summarizing the WJP’s findings the year before, Samuel Moyn, a professor of law and history at Yale University:

“All signs point to a crisis not just for human rights, but for the human rights movement. Within many nations, these fundamental rights are falling prey to the backlash against a globalising economy in which the rich are winning.”


Since the publication of WJP reports, overall rule of law scores have declined in numerous countries all over the world, with the greatest declines occurring in the category of fundamental rights, which measures absence of discrimination, right to life and security, due process, freedom of expression and religion, right to privacy, freedom of association, and labour rights. From 2016 to 2018, 71 countries out of 113 dropped in this category. Constraints on government powers, which measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law, saw the second greatest declines (64 countries out of 113 dropped).

From 2018 to 2019 – 38 countries declined in the report overall, Britain included.

It should be noted that the United States ranked just 20th out of the 35 countries classified as “high-income” in the report. In the fundamental rights category, the United States fell five places to 26th overall in 2018 as a result of “worsening levels of discrimination and due process of law plus decreased guarantees of the right to life.”

The top 12 twelve most highly ranked countries featured nine European countries, with Britain in 12th place. In the entire EU & EFTA & North America regions, Britain is the only country listed in the top 12 to have lost a place. In order and security, Britain drops to 21st place and 18th for civil justice. Denmark, Norway and Finland taking the top three slots respectively.

For the 2020 report, the WJP will need to take note of some high-profile events when calculating Britain’s real place in the world.

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Chagos – United Nations rules against Britain 13-1 for continued occupation. Britain rejects the rule of international law.

Assange – United Nations calls on Britain to release political prisoner Assange  – and like the best of kangaroo courts in the world, within 3 hours of his arrest at an embassy, he is found guilty and immediately imprisoned, ready for extradition.

Arms sales – Even The House of Lords international relations committee said that British weapons were “highly likely to be the cause of significant civilian casualties” in various countries where illegal wars, acts of genocide and war crimes are being committed.

Illegal state surveillance – The UK government’s record on civilian bulk data handling saw both the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that state surveillance practices such as those practised in Britain violated human rights law with the highest court of Britain ruling the same.

Statelessness – Begrum is just one of many made illegally stateless by Britain in recent years. It breaks both international and domestic laws.

Brexit – The government’s association with the DUP and the Irish backstop. The latter breaks international law – the former is morally bankrupt at best.

Human rights – The UK has failed to meet many human rights recommendations made by the United Nations who also complained that Britain is now damaging international standards by scrapping the Human Rights Act.

‘Burning injustice’ – When Theresa May delivered her first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street, she proclaimed that the mission of her Government was to tackle the ‘burning injustices’ that still blight Britain.

Indicators clearly demonstrating these burning injustices are all on the rise. From racism, discrimination, poverty homelessness, destitution, drug abuse, life in prisons to the collapse of social care. These are both pressing and shameful as well as setting a poor international standard by which other nations may take its example.


The result in Britain to not just domestic injustice but breaking international laws and standards is that the electorate has had enough. For the first time recorded the Hansard Society has warned that the UK is poised to embrace authoritarianism.

The WJP’s 2019 Rule of Law Index received almost no attention from the UK MSM media.

Read the 2019 World Justice Project report HERE (pdf)




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