The rule of law has once again eroded in a majority of countries this year, according to the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2023.
This is the sixth consecutive Index marking global declines in the rule of law. This year alone, the rule of law declined in 59% of countries surveyed—including Serbia.
Since 2016, the rule of law has fallen in 78% of the countries studied. The rule of law factor to decline most between 2016 and 2023 is Fundamental Rights—down in 77% of countries, including Serbia.
Over the past seven years, Index scores for Constraints on Government Powers have fallen in 74% of countries—including Serbia. Around the world, legislatures, judiciaries, and civil society—including the media—have all lost ground on checking executive power, the Index shows.
These and other authoritarian trends continued in 2023, but they are slowing, with fewer countries declining in 2022 and 2023 than in earlier years.
Constraints on Government Powers fell in 56% of countries, compared to 58% in 2022 and 70% in 2021. Likewise, a smaller majority of countries saw overall rule of law declines in this year (59%) as compared to the last two (61% and 74%).
A smaller majority of countries (56%) also experienced a decline in Fundamental Rights again this year, compared to 2022 (66%).
On the other hand, declines in the functioning of justice systems are now expanding.
Two thirds of countries (66%) saw their Index scores for Civil Justice fall this year, up from 61% of countries last year—including Serbia. Greater justice delays and weaker enforcement are largely to blame. Meanwhile, scores for Criminal Justice also fell in slightly more countries this year (56%) than last year (55%).
“The world remains gripped by a rule of law recession characterized by executive overreach, curtailing of human rights, and justice systems that are failing to meet people’s needs,” said WJP co-founder and president William H. Neukom. “People around the world are paying the price.”
Rule of law in Serbia
Serbia ranks 93rd out of 142 countries worldwide.
Regionally, Serbia ranks 11th out of 15 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.* The region’s top performer is Georgia (ranked 48th out of 142 globally), followed by Montenegro and Kosovo. The three countries with the lowest scores in the region are Belarus, Russia, and Türkiye (117th globally).
In the last year, 9 out of 15 countries declined in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Of those nine countries, seven had also declined in the previous year.
Among upper-middle-income countries, Serbia ranks 30th out of 41.**
Global rankings and trends
Globally, the top-ranked country in the 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index is Denmark, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The country with the lowest score is Venezuela, then Cambodia, Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
(The World Justice Project, 26.10.2023)
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