2 April 2014

New Zealand now ranks 6th on the Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project last month (comparing 99 countries). It was placed 4th on the 2011 Index (which compared 66 countries) – the 2012-13 Index did not include overall rankings.

Neither New Zealand media nor interest groups have shown much interest in this Index which measures adherence to the Rule of Law through 47 indicators organised around eight themes –

  • constraints on government powers
  • absence of corruption
  • open government
  • fundamental rights
  • order and security
  • regulatory enforcement
  • civil justice, and
  • criminal justice.

Transparency International (NZ) which champions the rule of law as an overarching component of the National Integrity System made no reference to the Index findings in its proposals for strengthening the NIS, released a fortnight after the Index was published. Transparency International (NZ) proposals were heavy on promoting open government, but the Index rated New Zealand as globally the second best for its open government focus, better than its third place ranking for the absence of corruption.

The Office of the Auditor General website makes no mention of the Rule of Law Index although the six Worldwide Governance Indicators, of which one is the rule of law, are measures for determining its statement of intent goal of trusted state services. (But then again the OAG site has not recognised the Worldwide Governance Indicators report published in September 2013 either.)

The Rule of Law Index places New Zealand in the top ten globally in six of the eight dimensions measured. ‘Criminal justice’ and ‘order and security’ are the more poorly rated dimensions. Compared with most, New Zealand has a healthy abundance of the foundational premises for the Rule of Law –

  • accountability under law
  • clear and publicised law, applied evenly, which protects rights
  • legislative and enforcement processes that are fair and accessible
  • accessible and timely justice.


Bill Gates is a substantial sponsor of the World Justice Project.


World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2014

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Sweden
  4. Finland
  5. Netherlands
  6. New Zealand
  7. Austria
  8. Australia
  9. Germany
  10. Singapore