Bangladesh's score in overall rule of law performance has remained static – at the bottom end of the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index – for the last four years.
The country, however, dropped two notches to rank 115 among 128 countries and jurisdictions in the WJP Rule of Law Index 2020 as two more countries were included in the index last year.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, WJP said Bangladesh scored 0.41 out of 1, where 1 indicates the strongest adherence to the rule of law.
In the South Asian region, Nepal was the top performer with a global ranking of 61. The country was followed by Sri Lanka at 66 and India at 69.
Pakistan and Afghanistan had the lowest scores of the region, ranking at 120 and 122 in the world, respectively.
Meanwhile, Denmark, Norway, and Finland topped the index.
Venezuela, Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the lowest overall rule of law scores — the same as in 2019.
WJP is an independent, multidisciplinary organisation working to create knowledge, build awareness, and stimulate action to advance the rule of law worldwide.
The WJP Rule of Law Index 2020 is an annual report based on national surveys of more than 130,000 households and 4,000 legal practitioners and experts around the world.
The world's leading source for original, independent data on the rule of law, the Rule of Law Index measures rule of law performance using 44 indicators across eight categories – each of which is scored and ranked globally against regional and income peers.
These factors include: constraints on government powers, the absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.
According to WJP, significant trends for Bangladesh included a slight improvement in the factor measuring order and security.
The country saw a decline in all of the remaining factors – except in criminal justice where its score remained the same as that in the previous year.
Regionally, Bangladesh is at the bottom of constraints on government powers and fundamentals rights – these measures how much those who govern are bound by law and the modest menu of rights.
Rule of law is declining globally
WJP said more countries declined than improved – in overall rule of law performance – for a third year in a row, continuing a negative slide towards weakening and stagnating rule of law around the world.
The majority of countries exhibiting signs of 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 witnessed 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 WJP Rule of Law Index.
Globally, fundamental rights, constraints on government powers, and the absence of corruption lead areas of greatest decline.
Civil justice showed the most positive movement over the previous year, with 47 countries improving against 41 declining. Since 2015, regulatory enforcement has improved the most, with 65 countries improving versus 29 declining.
Countries with the strongest improvement in rule of law were Ethiopia and Malaysia – the most downward movement in the rule of law was seen in Cameroon and Iran.
"The rule of law is not just a matter for judges or lawyers," said William H Neukom, WJP founder and CEO.
"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." he added.
Why to learn about the rule of law
The WJP Rule of Law Index captures adherence to the rule of law as defined by the WJP's universal principles through a comprehensive and multi-dimensional set of outcome indicators.
It is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity, and peace—underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.
Traditionally, the rule of law has been viewed as the domain of lawyers and judges. However, everyday issues of safety, rights, justice, and governance affect us all; everyone is a stakeholder in the rule of law.
Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease and protects people from injustices large and small.