Ranks 70th among 139 countries and jurisdictions


Nepal's overall rule of law score decreased 1.1 per cent in the World Justice Project Index-2021, which evaluates rule of law in 139 countries and jurisdictions.

The report, which was published in Washington last week, is the first in this annual series issued since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, and it shows multi-year negative trends worsening during this period.

At 70th place out of 139 countries and jurisdictions worldwide, Nepal fell two positions in the global rank.

Nepal's score places it first out of six countries covered in the South Asia region and fifth out of 35 among lower-middle income countries.

Regionally, South Asia's top performer in the Index is Nepal (70th out of 139 countries globally), followed by Sri Lanka and India. The three countries with the lowest scores in the region are Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan (134th out of 139 countries globally).

In the last years, rule of law in all six countries of South Asia declined. Of those six countries, five had also declined in terms of the rule of law in the previous year. The 2021 Index shows that globally more countries declined rather than improved in the overall rule of law performance for the fourth consecutive year.

In a year dominated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, 74.2 per cent of countries covered experienced decline in rule of law performance, while 25.8 per cent improved.

The 74.2 per cent of countries that experienced decline this year account for 84.7 per cent of the world's population, or approximately 6.5 billion people.

The decline was widespread and seen in all corners of the world. For the second year in a row, in every region, a majority of countries slipped backward or remained unchanged in their overall rule of law performance.

Over the past year, 82 per cent of countries in the Index experienced decline in at least one dimension of civic space (civic participation, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of assembly and association) and 94 per cent of countries in the Index experienced increased delays in administrative, civil, or criminal proceedings.

The top three performers this year were Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia, and Venezuela, had the lowest overall rule of law scores. The countries with the biggest improvement in rule of law in the past year were Uzbekistan (4.1 per cent), Moldova (3.2 per cent), and Mongolia (2.0 per cent). The countries with the biggest decline in rule of law in the past year were Belarus (-7.5 per cent) and Myanmar (-6.3 per cent). Nigeria, Nicaragua, Kyrgyz Republic, and Argentina tie for the third biggest decline (-3.7 per cent).

"With negative trends in so many countries, this year's Index should be a wake-up call for us all." said WJP Co-founder and CEO Bill Neukom in the report.

"Rule of Law is the very foundation of communities of justice, opportunity and peace. Reinforcing that foundation should be a top priority for the coming period of recovery from the pandemic."

The WJP Rule of Law Index is an annual report based on national surveys of more than 138,000 households and 4,200 legal practitioners and experts around the world. The WJP's framework for the rule of law covers eight factors: Constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.

A version of this article appears in the print on October 18, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.