3 December 2012

The 2012 World Justice Project’s Rule of Law survey results were published last week.  In many ways this survey is the most comprehensive collation of measures which indicate the quality of government in the countries surveyed – there are 98 jurisdictions in the 2012 survey.   It does not have the profile of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (the 2012 CPI will be available in New Zealand on Thursday) but has a broad range of sector assessments which enable more meaningful international comparisons.

The subfactors displayed in graphic form (see the link below) highlight by how much New Zealand falls below international good practice on a number of the measures.

The survey evaluates the way countries give effect to the “four universal principles” of the rule of law. These principles are’

  1. Accountable Government:  The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law.
  2. Security and Fundamental Rights:  The laws are clear, publicised, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
  3. Open Government and Regulatory Enforcement:  The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, efficient, and fair.
  4. Delivery of Justice:  Justice is delivered by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

A concern for New Zealand is that its ranking is sliding markedly compared with the two previous Rule of Law surveys. Most notable is the drop in the corruption measure with New Zealand now seen as being more corrupt than all the Scandinavian countries.

New Zealand remains in the “top ten” places on seven of eight dimensions.  Some of the movement down the league can be explained by 32 more jurisdictions being assessed than last year.

New Zealand 2012 (98 states) 2011 (66 states)
Limited government powers 6th 2nd
Absence of corruption 6th 1st
Order and security 12th 12th
Fundamental rights 5th 4th
Open government 4th 2nd
Regulatory enforcement 9th 3rd
Civil justice 9th 4th
Criminal justice 7th 3rd


  Limited govt. powers Absence of corruption Order and security Fund’al rights Open govt. Reg’y enf’mt Civil justice Criminal justice
1 Denmark Sweden Sing’pre Sweden Sweden Sweden Norway Denmark
2 Sweden Denmark Hong


Denmark Ne’thlds Japan Ne’thds Finland
3 Norway Norway Finland Norway Norway Denmark Germany Sing’pre
4 Finland Finland Denmark Finland New Zealand Austria Singapore Norway
5 Australia Ne’thds UAE New Zealand Australia Australia Finland Sweden
6 New Zealand New Zealand Sweden Spain Canada Norway Denmark Ne’thds
7 Ne’thds Sing’pre Japan Poland Finland Ne’thds Sweden New Zealand
8 Austria Australia Uzb’stan Australia Japan Finland Japan Hong


9 Germany Hong


Austria Ne’thds Hong


New Zealand New Zealand Germany
10 Japan Japan Canada Austria Austria Sing’pre Austria Rep Korea

                                               New Zealand  12th