Report: Estonia ranks 10th out of 128 countries on the rule of law

According to the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020, Estonia ranks 10th out of 128 countries on the rule of law.

The Rule of Law Index is an annual report based on national surveys of more than 130,000 households and 4,000 legal practitioners and experts around the world. It 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.

Estonia’s overall rule of law score remained the same in this year’s index. “At 10th place out of 128 countries and jurisdictions worldwide, Estonia remained in the same position in global rank. Estonia’s score places it at 9 out of 24 countries in the European Union, European Free Trade Association, and North America region and 10 out of 37 among high income countries,” the World Justice Project said in a statement.

Widespread declines in the rule of law

Denmark, Norway and Finland topped the Rule of Law Index rankings in 2020. Venezuela, Cambodia and the 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 organisation said. “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 index.

The rule of law is the bedrock of communities

Regionally, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association and North America’s top performer in the index is Denmark (first out of 128 countries globally), followed by Norway and Finland. The three countries with the lowest scores in the region were Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary (60th out of 128 countries globally).

Estonia’s constitution. The image is illustrative.

“The rule of law is not just a matter for judges or lawyers,” William H. Neukom, the founder and CEO of the World Justice Project, said in a statement. “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.”

The World Justice Project is an independent, multidisciplinary organisation working to create knowledge, build awareness and stimulate action to advance the rule of law worldwide.

Cover: Judges and administrative staff looking out of the windows of the Pärnu County Court’s building in Pärnu, Estonia’s fourth largest town. Photo by Eneli Kivi.

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