According to the Rule of Law index 2021, compiled by the World Justice Project, Estonia is ranked 11th among 139 countries or jurisdictions, having jumped one position compared with the previous year’s index.
Estonia’s overall rule of law score decreased by less than 1% in this year’s Index. At 11th place out of 139 countries and jurisdictions worldwide, Estonia improved one position in global rank.
Estonia’s score places it at 10 out of 31 countries in the European Union, the European Free Trade Association and the North America region, and 11 out of 46 among high income countries, the World Justice Project said in a statement.
In the index, Estonia fares better than the United Kingdom (16th) and the United States (27th).
Regionally, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association and North America’s top performer in the index is Denmark (first out of 139 countries globally), followed by Norway and Finland. Sweden comes fourth and Germany fifth.
Negative trends in many countries worldwide
In this year’s index, Lithuania is ranked 18th, Latvia 24th and Russia 101st.
The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2021 is the first in the annual series issued since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, and it shows multi-year negative trends worsening during this period.
“With negative trends in so many countries, this year’s WJP Rule of Law Index should be a wake-up call for us all,” the co-founder and CEO of the World Justice Project, Bill Neukom, said in a statement.
“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 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 framework for the rule of law covers eight factors: constraints on government powers, the absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice.
Biggest improvement in Uzbekistan, biggest decline in Belarus
In a year dominated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, 74.2% of countries covered experienced declines in rule of law performance, while 25.8% improved. The 74.2% of countries that experienced declines this year account for 84.7% of the world’s population, or approximately 6.5 billion people, the World Justice Project said.
“The declines were 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,” the organisation noted.
The countries with the biggest improvement in rule of law in the past year were Uzbekistan (4.1%), Moldova (3.2%) and Mongolia (2.0%). The countries with the biggest decline in rule of law in the past year were Belarus (-7.5%) and Myanmar (-6.3%). Nigeria, Nicaragua, Kyrgyz Republic, and Argentina tie for the third biggest decline (-3.7%).
The World Justice Project is an independent organisation working to advance the rule of law worldwide.
Cover: Estonia’s Supreme Court building in Tartu. Photo by Ivo Kruusamägi, shared under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.