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The Singapore Law Gazette

The World Justice Project – Background and Recent Developments

“The WJP is an international non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting the rule of law. We believe that the rule of law is foundational to so much else that we are trying to achieve in this world whether it is economic development or peace.”

— Elizabeth Andersen, Executive Director, World Justice Project

The World Justice Project

The World Justice Project® (‘WJP’) is an independent, multi-disciplinary organisation working to generate knowledge, raise awareness and catalyse action to advance the rule of law around the world. Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease, and protects people from injustices large and small. It is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity, and peace — underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.

Founded by William H. Neukom in 2006 as a presidential initiative of the American Bar Association, the WJP was established as an independent non-profit organisation in 2009. Its offices are located in Washington, DC and Seattle, WA, USA; Mexico City, Mexico; and Singapore, which serves as the Asia Pacific Regional Office of the WJP since November 2016.

Our Approach

Traditionally, the rule of law has been viewed as the domain of lawyers and judges. But everyday issues of safety, rights, justice, and governance affect us all; everyone is a stakeholder in the rule of law. Based on this, the WJP’s mutually-reinforcing lines of work employ a multi-disciplinary approach through original research and data, an active global network, and promotion of practical, locally-led programmes to advance the rule of law worldwide.

Research and Scholarship

The WJP’s Research and Scholarship work supports empirical research about the meaning and measurement of the rule of law, and how it matters for economic, socio-political, and human development. For example, it recently produced a series of policy briefs analysing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on key rule of law factors and how to address them, and published a new study on environmental governance in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank. Its Rule of Law Research Consortium is a community of leading scholars from a variety of fields harnessing diverse methods and approaches to produce research on the rule of law and its effects on society. On the horizon, the WJP will a convene a Scholars conference with leading researchers in the Asia Pacific region to produce research on the rule of law and recommendations on how to strengthen it, including the development of relevant curricula, training and best practices.

WJP Rule of Law Index

The WJP Rule of Law Index is an annual report providing original, impartial data on how the rule of law is experienced and perceived by the general public in 128 countries and jurisdictions around the globe. It is the most comprehensive index of its kind, providing scores and rankings based on eight factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice. Index findings have been referenced by heads of state, chief justices, business leaders, public officials, and the media as a leading benchmark for evaluating rule of law performance. It is the WJP’s hope that this diagnostic tool will help identify countries’ strengths and weaknesses and encourage policy choices that strengthen the rule of law.

In the latest 2020 Index, country scores and rankings were derived from more than 130,000 household surveys and 4,000 expert surveys. On average, more than 30 local experts per country respond to the Qualified Respondent Questionnaires while the services of leading local polling companies are engaged to implement the household surveys.

According to the 2020 WJP Rule of Law Index, a majority of countries and jurisdictions in the East Asia & Pacific region have slipped backward or remained unchanged in their overall rule of law performance since the last report. Overall, Singapore moved up a notch to No. 12 out of 128 countries and jurisdictions, the only Asian country among the top dozen globally.

Engaging a Global Network for the Rule of Law

WJP’s Engagement team works to connect and support a growing global network of rule of law experts and practitioners, organises strategic convenings, and fosters practical, on-the-ground programmes. At the biennial World Justice Forum, regional conferences, and single-country engagements, citizens and leaders come together to learn about the rule of law, build their networks, and design pragmatic solutions to local rule of law challenges. In addition, the World Justice Challenge (‘WJC’) provides prize money and other resources to support practical, on-the-ground programmes addressing discrimination, corruption, impunity, and more.

At WJP’s 2019 World Justice Forum, the WJC focused its competition on access to justice, drawing over 250 applications that were narrowed down to 30 finalists and five winners. For the new WJC edition launched last month, WJP has created an online solutions-oriented knowledge platform for sharing knowledge, raising awareness, and catalysing action to recover and rebuild rule of law values, institutions, and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition will feature solutions addressing the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic and the following rule of law issues:

  1. Access to Justice
  2. Accountable Governance
  3. Anti-corruption and Open Government
  4. Fundamental Rights and Non-discrimination

Winners of the World Justice Challenge 2021 will be announced before mid-2021. For more information about the competition, visit

Winners of the 2019 World Justice Challenge at the World Justice Forum VI in The Hague, Netherlands.

WJP Activities in Asia Pacific

The primary goal of the Singapore office is to introduce WJP’s work to promote the rule of law to key Asia Pacific-based stakeholders in multiple sectors such as government, business, legal, education and civil society and building relationships with them. WJP’s flagship Rule of Law Index received extensive coverage by print, broadcast and social media, including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Straits Times, South China Morning Post, Kompass, Bangkok Post, among others. Moreover, the WJP Rule of Law Index data is used as a key performance indicator by governments, such as in the Philippine National Development Plan 2017-2022.

The WJP also co-hosted the 7th Hong Kong Independent Commission against Corruption (‘ICAC’) Symposium in May 2019 that attracted over 600 anti-corruption experts from around the world – the first time an international non-profit organisation, after the United Nations and the European Union, was invited to play such a role.

The WJP had the honour of being the first international non-governmental organisation to co-host, with the Hong Kong International Anti-Corruption Commission (ICAC), the 7th ICAC Anti-Corruption Symposium in May 2019. A record crowd from over 50 countries learned about anti-corruption global trends and the W JP Rule of Law Index.

WJP welcomes involvement in our mission. Interested parties who may wish to participate as Qualified Respondent Questionnaire experts in the next 2021 WJP Rule of Law Index and find out more about its regional launch in Singapore and the work of the WJP, may please e-mail [email protected] . To receive the latest World Justice Project news, updates, and invitations, interested parties may also wish to subscribe at

Asia Pacific Regional Director
The World Justice Project
E-mail: [email protected]