26th out of 31 in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region
The World Justice Project (WJP) released the WJP Rule of Law Index 2020, an annual report based on national surveys of more than 130,000 households and 4,000 legal practitioners and experts around the world.
The WJP Rule of Law Index measures rule of law performance in 128 countries and jurisdictions across eight primary factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice. The Index is the world’s leading source for original, independent data on the rule of law.
Ethiopia’s overall rule of law score decreased 5.6% in this year’s Index. At 114th place out of 128 countries and jurisdictions worldwide, Ethiopia improved six positions in global rank. Ethiopia’s score places it at 26 out of 31 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region and 16 out of 19 among low income countries.
Significant trends for Ethiopia included an improvement in the factors measuring Constraints on Government Powers, Open Government, and Fundamental Rights, and a deterioration in the factor measuring Order and Security.
Denmark, Norway, and Finland topped the WJP Rule of Law Index rankings in 2020. Venezuela, RB; Cambodia; and Democratic Republic of the Congo had the lowest overall rule of law scores—the same as in 2019.
More countries declined than improved in overall rule of law performance for a third year in a row, continuing a negative slide toward weakening and stagnating rule of law around the world. The majority of countries showing deteriorating rule of law in the 2020 Index also declined in the previous year, demonstrating a persistent downward trend. This was particularly pronounced in the Index factor measuring Constraints on Government Powers.
The declines were widespread and seen in all corners of the world. In every region, a majority of countries slipped backward or remained unchanged in their overall rule of law performance since the 2019 WJP Rule of Law Index.
Regionally, Sub-Saharan Africa’s top performer in the Index is Namibia (35th out of 128 countries globally), followed by Rwanda and Mauritius. The three countries with the lowest scores in the region were Mauritania, Cameroon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (126th out of 128 countries globally).
Countries with the strongest improvement in rule of law were Ethiopia (5.6% increase in score, driven primarily by gains in Constraints on Government Powers and Fundamental Rights) and Malaysia (5.1%, driven primarily by gains in Constraints on Government Powers, Fundamental Rights, and Regulatory Enforcement).
The largest declines in the rule of law were seen in Cameroon (-4.4%, driven primarily by falling scores in Order and Security and Fundamental Rights) and Iran (-4.2%, driven primarily by falling scores in Criminal Justice). Over the last five years, countries experiencing the largest average annual percentage drop in the rule of law were Egypt (-4.6 %); Venezuela, RB (-3.9%); Cambodia (-3.0%); Philippines (-2.5%); Cameroon (-2.4%); Hungary (-2.1%); and Bosnia and Herzegovina (-2.1%).
The single biggest decline by factor over the past five years was Egypt’s and Poland’s score for Constraints on Government Powers, with an average annual decline of -8.5% and -6.8%, respectively.
“The rule of law is not just a matter for judges or lawyers,” said William H. Neukom, WJP founder and CEO. “It is the bedrock of communities of justice, opportunity, and peace. We are all stakeholders in the rule of law and therefore we all have a role to play in upholding it. The 2020 Index underscores that we have our work cut out for us.”