The World Justice Project
was founded by William H. Neukom in 2006 as a presidential initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA), and with the initial support of 21 other strategic partners, the World Justice Project. Later it transitioned into an independent non-profit organisation with multiple offices across the world. The head office is located in Washington, DC.
The initiative unites representatives of the business community, research fellows, lawyers and experts from different spheres on advancing the Rule of law worldwide. Besides the Rule of Law Index, which covers 128 countries, the organisation produces and publishes analytical reports and briefs concerning access to justice and the Rule of law in different regions.
The main product is the Rule of Law Index
. The report is based on the results of the research team of the WJP and updated annually. Each country is estimated by nine criteria and depending on the scores in each of these criteria is ranked in the general Index. The criteria are as follows:
a) Constraints on government powers
– 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.
b) Absence of corruption
– 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
c) Open Government
– 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 publicised, and evaluates the quality of information published by the government
d) Fundamental Rights
– measures the protection of fundamental human rights. It recognises 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.
e) Order and Security
– measures how well society assures the security of persons and property.
f) Regulatory Enforcement
– measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced. Regulations, both legal and administrative, structure behaviours within and outside of the government.
g) Civil Justice
– measures whether ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effectively through the civil justice system.
h) Criminal justice
– 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 offences against society.
Each country gains scores from 0 to 1 where 0 is the lowest and 1 is the highest mark.
The highest scores are given to the Scandinavian countries where the judicial system is independent and effective in the ability to enforce justice. The level of trust to the judicial system and courts in these countries is on a very high level, and the integrity of the judicial governance bodies and judges are undoubted. In addition, the level of corruption in the judiciaries of the Scandinavian countries is very low. The combination of these facts puts them in the leading places of almost all the ratings and assessments in this sphere.
The worst situation is in the African countries, some of the Middle East countries, and countries of South America, where government institutions are weak and unable to ensure the sufficient level of transparency and integrity in the judiciary.
Ukraine has always been in the middle of the scale and showed some progress in between 2015 and 2019 scoring an additional 0.03 points (0.48 in 2016 and 0.51 in 2019). However, such growth can hardly be acknowledged as a success if to analyse a little bit deeper the assessment criteria itself.
The first assessment criteria – Constraints on Government Powers
comprises several sub-criteria, and if to consider them first during the analysis, the situation looks not so optimistic. Thus,
in four years, Ukraine managed to progress from having 0.45 to 0.46 points.
It is not surprising that under the second assessment criteria Absence of corruption
Ukraine lost 0.01 point (from 0.34 in 2015-18 to 0.33 in 2019). It is essential to mention that the country did not move in fighting corruption according to the WJP Index during 2015-18. Notably, according to the sub-factor "Government officials in the judicial branch do not use public office for private gain
", Ukraine did not show any progress in 2015-2018 and even lost several positions in 2019.
The similar situation is observed if to assess the country by Open Government
subfactor – back in 2015 Ukraine had 0.56 points, and by 2019 this number changed to 0.55. The area where according to the WJP our country showed significant improvement was the area, assessed by Order and Security
In 2015, the WJP gave Ukraine only 0.60 points in this area whereas in 2018-19 this number made up already 0.73 points. Presumably, this may be related to the reform of Patrol Police in Ukraine as the progress of the country under this criteria corresponds with the process of the implementation of this reform. However, we cannot certainly confirm this fact.
With regard to the rest indicators, the situation did not change in between 2015 and 2019 in the sphere of Regulatory Enforcement
. Here we stayed with 0.42 points. Some progress was made in the areas, assessed by Civil Justice
and Criminal Justice
criteria. Here Ukraine scored additional points from 0.49 in 2015 up to 0.54 in 2019 and 0.36 up to 0.37 points respectively.
Overall, it is important to understand that aside from the points system, the WJP Index forms the rating of countries, giving them certain places, which are supposed to correlate with the progress of the country in the areas defined by the WJP as crucial. When speaking about the overall position of the countries, we need to go beyond the positions of the country on the scale of the rating and analyse the sub-factors of each criterion. This would allow us to build a clearer picture of the situation with the Rule of Law in a particular country.
However, as we may see, moving up the ladder of the rating often can be made due to improvements in areas, which are not critical for establishing the Rule of Law. In the case of Ukraine, despite the progress in bettering order and security, the independence of the judiciary and the ability of the legislature to limit the government powers to remain on a comparatively low level. At the same time, the situation in more important spheres, e.g. fighting corruption and ensuring transparency of the governance bodies, including judicial governance bodies and courts, became even worse.