Nations of Laws

In most discussions of nation-building, functioning legal systems are seen as useful  indicators of a society’s coherence and long-term stability.

The Asia Times say in a piece today entitled “Asia is short of respect of law”  that

“The rule of law – an essential element of good governance – is prospering best in the countries of northern Europe and worst in Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe and Cameroon, according to the latest edition of a five-year-old index released here Wednesday by the World Justice Project (WJP).

“The Rule of Law Index, which this year assessed conditions in a record 97 countries, whose combined population comprises roughly 94% of the world’s total, found that higher-income countries, especially in North America and Western Europe, generally respect the rule of law more than poor nations.

“The 233-page report also found strong performance on several of the eight factors the Index uses to quantify its assessments on the part of specific low- and middle-income countries.

“Botswana, in particular, scored consistently among the higher-income countries, besting the United States, for example, in three factors: providing fair and equal access to the criminal and civil justice systems, and fair enforcement of regulations. Another sub-Saharan African country, Ghana, also scored well in several categories, such as government transparency.

“South Asia performed most poorly among the major regional blocs, with Pakistan and Bangladesh earning the worst scores.

“The rule of law is the foundation for communities of opportunity and equity – it is the predicate for the eradication of poverty, violence, corruption, pandemics, and other threats to civil society,” said WJP’s CEO, William Neukom, a former president of the American Bar Association, who launched the organization six years ago with support from, among others, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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