The World Justice Project (WJP) is an independent, multidisciplinary organization working to advance the rule of law around the world.
The WJP's works through three programs -- Research and Scholarship, the WJP Rule of Law Index, and Engagement -- WJP seeks to increase public awareness about the foundational importance of the rule of law, stimulate government reforms, and develop practical programs at the community level.
It was founded by William H. Neukom in 2006 as a presidential initiative of the American Bar Association, and with the support of 21 partners. The World Justice Project became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2009. Its offices are located in Washington, D.C., and Seattle, Washington, USA.
The World Justice Project defines the rule of law system as one in which the following four universal principles are upheld:
- The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law.
- The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
- The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, efficient, and fair.
- Justice is delivered by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
The World Justice Project supports research that examines the contributions of the rule of law to aspects of economic, political, and social development. The scholarship program is pursuing an research agenda studying the effectiveness of the rule of law in domains of social life, the inter-dependencies among the institutional components of the rule of law, and the causal mechanisms by which the rule of law affects economic and political life.
The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index is an quantitative assessment tool designed to offer a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice. The Index provides data on eight dimensions of the rule of law: limited government powers; absence of corruption; order and security; fundamental rights; open government; regulatory enforcement; civil justice; and criminal justice. These factors are further disaggregated into forty-four indicators. Together, they provide a comprehensive picture of rule of law compliance. The index is typically published annually.
The Index rankings and scores are built from over 400 variables drawn from two new data sources: (i) a general population poll (GPP), designed by the WJP and conducted by leading local polling companies using a probability sample of 1,000 respondents in the three largest cities of each country; and (ii) a qualified respondents’ questionnaire (QRQ) completed by in-country experts in civil and commercial law, criminal law, labor law, and public health. To date, over 97,000 people and 2,500 experts have been interviewed in 99 countries and jurisdictions. Adherence to the rule of law is assessed using 47 indicators organized around eight themes: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice. In addition to country scores and rankings, the Index also includes key global findings as well as an analysis of regional strengths, rule of law challenges, best and worst performers, and trends to watch.
The World Justice Project's most recent index offers a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which 113 countries and jurisdictions around the world adhere to the rule of law. The list below shows the top 30 countries/territories and the full rankings are available for download on the WJP website.
In its analysis, countries are typically grouped with those that are geographically and economically similar, so "Somalia isn't compared to Sweden." According to the analysis, Scandinavia is home to the most successful "rule of law" countries. While the United States scores well on limiting civil conflict, protecting the right to petition the government and freedom of speech, it does not do well on measures of its criminal justice system.
Since its founding in 2006, the WJP has helped give people in countries around the world greater understanding of the rule of law and with it, greater opportunities in nearly every part of their lives – from education, to health care, to property rights to fair and peaceful resolution of disputes. The WJP’s Engagement initiatives strive to make rule of law advancement as fundamental to the thinking and work of other professionals as it is to lawyers and judges.
The World Justice Challenge is an open competition designed to incubate practical, on-the-ground programs that advance the rule of law. Selected programs will be supported by:Modest seed grants—the typical size of a seed grant is $15,000 to $25,000
Connections to others in the WJP’s global network
Increased visibility through media and communications support
The World Justice Forum is the world’s largest global multidisciplinary platform dedicated to advancing the rule of law. It is a global gathering at which prominent leaders from all parts of the world and a variety of disciplines come together to articulate how the rule of law affects their disciplines and regions and to develop collaborative actions to strengthen the rule of law.
Since 2007, the WJP has held three World Justice Forums. The inaugural World Justice Forum was held in Vienna, Austria, on July 2–5, 2008. The World Justice Forum II took place on November 11–14, 2009, also in Vienna, Austria. The World Justice Forum III was held on June 20–23, 2011, in Barcelona, Spain. The World Justice Forum IV took place on July 8–11, 2013, in The Hague, Netherlands.
The World Justice Project convened a small taskforce of Tunisian leaders from business, government and civil society in Tunis, Tunisia, on May 28, 2012, to assess rule of law opportunities and challenges facing Tunisia during the ongoing reform process. The WJP worked closely with the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), the Arab Center for the Rule of Law and Integrity (ACRLI), and the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL) in the planning and execution of the Tunisia workshop. It produced a detailed report on the rule of law situation in Tunisia based on data from its Rule of Law Index. The WJP is also considering organizing additional workshops in the future for countries undergoing transition.
The WJP supports multidisciplinary workshops aimed at strengthening the rule of law in the United States. State and local bar associations, law schools and other local leaders are sponsoring state-level multidisciplinary outreach meetings to form multidisciplinary partnerships to strengthen the rule of law at the state and community levels. Participants at these meetings have included business and community leaders, educators, health care professionals, judges, lawyers, government officials, and religious leaders.
The World Justice Project has the support of individuals representing a range of disciplines around the world. The Honorary Chairs of the World Justice Project are:Hon. Madeleine Albright
Hon. Giuliano Amato
Hon. Robert Badinter
Hon. James A. Baker III
Hon. Stephen G. Breyer
President Jimmy Carter
Maria L. Cattaui
Hon. Hans Corell
Hon. Hilario G. Davide, Jr.
Hernando de Soto
William H. Gates, Sr.
Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Hon. Richard J. Goldstone
Hon. Kunio Hamada
Hon. Lee H. Hamilton
Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim
Hon. Hassan Bubacar Jallow
Hon. Tassaduq Hussain Jillani
Hon. Anthony M. Kennedy
Hon. Beverley McLachlin, P.C.
Hon. George J. Mitchell
John Edwin Mroz
Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor
Hon. Ana Palacio
Gen. Colin L. Powell
Roy L. Prosterman
Hon. Richard W. Riley
Hon. Mary Robinson
Hon. Petar Stoyanov
The Most Rev. Desmond Tutu
Hon. Antonio Vitorino
Paul A. Volcker
Rt. Hon. Lord (Harry) Woolf
Hon. Andrew Young
The World Justice Project's Board of Directors includes:Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad
William C. Hubbard
William H. Neukom
Ellen Gracie Northfleet
James R. Silkenat
The World Justice Project has the following Board Officers:William C. Hubbard, Chairman of the Board
William H. Neukom, President and Chief Executive Officer
Deborah Enix-Ross, Vice President
Suzanne E. Gilbert, Vice President
James R. Silkenat, Director and Vice President
Lawrence B. Bailey, Secretary and Treasurer
Gerold W. Libby, General Counsel