In 2023, Luxembourg’s rule of law score improved slightly by 0.01, reaching a final tally of 0.83 on a scale from 0 to 1.0, propelling grand duchy up two positions globally to secure 6th place in the rule of law index.
The annual index, encapsulating the views of 95% of the global populace, derives each nation’s score from a composite average across eight distinct facets. These range from constraints on government powers and accountability, to criminal justice and human rights.
Denmark secured the top position, trailed by Norway, Finland, Sweden and Germany. On the opposite end, the lower rankings featured Venezuela, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Alarmingly, a majority of the 142 countries and jurisdictions evaluated in 2023 witnessed a deterioration in the rule of law, as announced by the World Justice Project on Wednesday 25 October.
According to the organisation, the rule of law index underscored a sixth consecutive year of global decline, with over 6bn people now living in nations experiencing a regression in rule of law between 2022 and 2023. Since 2016, fuelled by rising authoritarian trends, an overwhelming 78% of countries have felt the impact, said the report.
Delving into specific areas of decline, the index identified fundamental rights as the most severely impacted, registering a decrease in 77% of countries from 2016 to 2023. Despite this, the report noted a deceleration in authoritarian tendencies for 2023, with a reduced number of countries facing declines in 2022 and 2023 compared to previous years.
However, this slowdown has been countered by increasing issues in justice system functionality, with a growing number of nations struggling to provide timely, affordable and accessible justice. This has resulted in a drop in the civil justice factor across various jurisdictions in 2023.
Addressing authoritarian trends, the report pointed out that the global rule of law recession deepened amidst the covid pandemic, marked by governmental restrictions on civic freedoms and justice system shutdowns. Over the past seven years, 74% of countries have seen a decrease in index scores related to constraints on government powers, signifying a global diminution in checks on executive authority from legislatures, judiciaries and civil society.
The report also highlighted a worrisome decline in human rights as the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approaches. It evaluates a range of human rights from the declaration, with four out of the five most significantly declining indicators during the rule of law recession being tied to human rights. Since 2016, civic participation has suffered the most, declining in 83% of countries, followed by freedoms of assembly and association (81%), opinion and expression (78%) and religion (76%).
Failures within justice systems emerged as a critical concern in the index, with negative trends intensifying in 2023. A total of 66% of countries saw their civil justice scores fall, increasing from 61% in 2022. Criminal justice scores also declined in 56% of countries, a slight increase from 55% in 2022.
Kuwait and Montenegro were new additions to the index in 2023, ranking 52nd and 57th globally. Honduras was again identified as a top improver, alongside Bulgaria, Kenya, Slovenia and Jordan. On the other end of the spectrum, Sudan, Mali, Iran, Nicaragua and Afghanistan experienced the most severe declines in rule of law over the last year.